Stones on the secret behind his brilliant Man City partnership with Ruben Dias

Hard work is the key to Manchester City’s newest defensive partnership, John Stones says.

Stones has struck up a surprising partnership with summer signing Ruben Dias, establishing himself as first choice in Pep Guardiola’s defence ahead of Aymeric Laporte, Nathan Ake and Fernandinho.

The pair were superb in City’s Carabao Cup semi-final win at Manchester United on Wednesday, with Stones scoring the first goal in a 2-0 win and Dias earning the Man of the Match award.

It was the pair’s seventh clean sheet together in eight games, with just one goal – the late consolation against Chelsea – conceded in that time.

And Stones says the secret to how the pair have quickly gelled is hard work on the training pitch – something he wants to continue going forward.

He told Man City : “We’ve just got to keep building on it, keep trying and working hard.

“We’ve always got things to improve on but it’s a pleasure to play with him, how well he’s done coming into the club straight away playing so many games, playing so well. He got Man of the Math again today.

“All credit to him, I’ll take a bit of credit for him too! Hopefully we can keep moving forward and keep getting clean sheets and doing our job for the team.”

City’s progression to a fourth consecutive Carabao Cup final came a day after the sad passing of club legend Colin Bell, and Stones said the players and staff discussed before the United win what the ‘King of the Kippax’ meant to the club.

He said: “Amazing achievement for us, the club, for everyone. I want to send a message from me and the players to Colin Bell’s family, friends, anyone who knew him. Our deepest, deepest condolences and our thoughts and wishes are with anyone who was a family or friend of Colin.

“We played for him today, I’m sure he was watching the game. Played in his spirit, in his fight. Obviously back to Wembley which I’m sure he’d be made up of. Wearing his shirt before the game was something special for us as players.

“We spoke about it before the game, the manager and players. How his legacy is for Man City. We walk out at the Etihad and his stand’s there. All the things like this and it gave us an added boost, there’s an extra pressure and a bit of pride on the game.

“Not only for the city, for us as players, but especially a derby game we’ve pulled it off and it’s something we’re very proud of. Four years on the bounce, back to Wembley and another final.

“All I can say is how we’ve done him and the fans proud. We’re definitely proud to win a derby game and going back to Wembley again hopefully we can get the job done there. It’s another step forward, another step in the right direction, and another clean sheet for us.

“We’ve bettered ourselves from when we came here in the Premier League a few weeks back from a 0-0 draw to a 2-0 which is another achievement. A great all-round achievement for us.

“I think everyone’s so hungry to win trophies and, no matter what game it is and who we are up against, the winning mentality of the lads is something so special.

“(It’s) something that’s very rare in football maybe, for a team to be successful for so many years or challenging for so many years. And it’s something that we pride ourselves on and something we’ll continue doing.”

Manchester Evening News