Harry Maguire has opened up on his relationship with John Stones who he calls a “good friend” despite their club rivalry.
The two centre-halves both ply their trades in Manchester – but on opposite sides of the city.
Maguire and Stones played alongside each other for England against Albania and are tipped to team up at the Euros this summer.
They have experienced similar rises over the past five years and each moved to Manchester for big fees.
That came with lofty expectations, Stones especially has had to overcome tough times at City.
And Maguire claims the scrutiny they both find themselves under has led to a strong bond.
“We always speak away from football. He’s a good friend,” said the United skipper. “I grew up with him, I grew up playing against him when he was at Barnsley.
“We’re not far from each other where we actually grew up and lived and come through. When you play centre back especially, week in, week out you’re going to have some ups, you’re going have some downs, you’re going to be at fault.
“You’re not going to go throughout your career without being at fault for goals, so you get scrutinised when you play in the Premier League so you expect that.
“It’s about how strong you are mentally and how you can come through it. I’m pleased to see John. He’s back playing and back playing with confidence, back playing really well. For myself, I feel exactly the same.”
Stones has been integral for a City side that look set to win a third league title under Pep Guardiola.
United were the closest challenges and Maguire has joked that he wants Stones to play well – but without winning games.
“We spoke to each other through times where it’s tough,” he added.
“We spoke when it was tough and we speak when it’s going well. Like I say, I’m close with John. I want him to play as well as you can without winning football matches, if possible!”