Former Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany has said John Stones is ready to show the world how good he is this season.
Stones has been tipped for the top for several years but errors and a lack of consistency have hampered his progress.
The 25-year-old was left out by City manager Pep Guardiola for much of the run-in to last season’s Premier League title success, with Kompany preferred on a number of occasions.
But with Kompany having left and Aymeric Laporte out injured for the next few months, Stones is set for a prolonged run alongside Nicolas Otamendi in the heart of City’s defence.
Kompany said: “I’ve always said John is one of the most talented defenders. He’s got such a bright future.
“He’s already achieved a lot, let’s not forget that. He’s not a young defender anymore that hasn’t got any experience. He’s a multiple Premier League-winning central defender that is growing.
“The one thing I wish for him is consistency – consistency of games and consistency of fitness – and then he will show the world how good he is.
“By the end of it, if City can win a Champions League or something, all of a sudden he’ll be mentioned in a completely different category.
“He just has to get himself on the pitch, be himself and he’ll be fine. I’ve not seen signs of weakness I need to be worried about.
“He’s just a top-class defender. If now he gets to play games things will sort themselves out, no doubt.”
Stones is expected to return from a hamstring problem to face Norwich this weekend and, with Laporte sidelined, he and Otamendi are City’s only senior fit centre-backs.
City’s decision not to sign another defender to replace Kompany in the summer has been questioned but the Belgian believes his former club are still more than capable of coping.
He said: “Three world-class centre backs is awesome by any standard. In the past we had the luxury of four but I’ve not seen many teams have four top, top centre-backs.