Pep Guardiola thinks John Stones has put his problems behind him to help Manchester City improve their defence for this season.

Stones was a marquee signing back in 2016 in Guardiola's first transfer window at the club and quickly became associated with the new identity of the team - for better or worse. He was outstanding in the first half of the 2017/18 season, but has struggled to hold down a regular place ever since as a result of injuries and personal issues.

While the manager had said that he would never sell the player, Stones had fallen so far down the pecking order this summer that his future in the squad was uncertain. He vowed to stay despite the club bringing in Nathan Ake and Ruben Dias in his position, and made his third start of the season in the 1-0 win over Olympiacos in midweek.

Guardiola has taken particular pride in the former Everton defender bouncing back and believes he is now in a place where he can be relied upon in the team.

"I’m especially happy for John because he's a special guy for me. We arrive together here and have spent all the time together," he said. "He was injured and had personal issues but is now settled again and with more confident performances like the other day he’ll have chances to show his quality in this team.

"Ruben is playing every game because he doesn’t make mistakes, he leads the line and does almost everything perfect. It doesn’t matter about the past or who you were, you have to win your position every three days. There’ll be some players who are playing good and will not be rotated but if players are playing good they have more chances to stay on the pitch.”

Having played his part in a City backline that proved unreliable last season, Stones is now contributing to a defence that has become one of the stronger parts of City's team. If the midfield and attack have struggled for goals in recent months, they have been more stable at the back.

The fact that Stones, Ake and others can slot into the team and push Aymeric Laporte and Dias is providing Guardiola with the level of competition that he wants further up the pitch as the injury situation improves at the club.

"The guys who play good are going to continue to play, if they don’t make mistakes that cost a lot - especially in defence - they’ll have more chance to continue in the team," said the coach..

"If the guys up front score they’ll have more chance to continue. I judge the players on what they do right now in the present."