John Stones says he felt “helpless” during his year and a half out of the England squad, and that rejection gave him motivation to get better.
The Manchester City defender is back in Gareth Southgate’s plans for the first time since November 2019, after a series of impressive performances for the Premier League leaders alongside Ruben Dias.
Stones is in contention to start the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland and he has been itching to get back on the international stage.
Analysis: Block midfield, attack wing-backs – How Guardiola can end Tuchel hoodoo
"It was very tough and I think it would be the same for everyone," said Stones about watching games on TV.
It was difficult watching from home. You feel a bit helpless that you can't contribute and be a part of the squad, but I used it as a motivation to strive to be better.
"When I got the text the other day, it was a great feeling to be back involved and see all the faces I've got some great memories with.
"I was very nervous. I had worked so hard and I was hearing people say, 'You should be in'. But I didn't take any of that in until the text arrived. I wanted to hear from the source. I was absolutely made up."
Stones insists he has nothing to prove on his England return and also hopes he can transfer his form for City on to the international stage - as can his club team-mates Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and Kyle Walker.
"I'd love everyone to be coming to camp after winning something but that's not possible.
"But that winning mentality - if we can bring that into the England squad it would be invaluable I think.
"I think it would be massive for us if we can keep pushing and keep fighting until the end of the season and see what happens.
"But definitely the keyword is that winning mentality”.
West Ham v Man City and Arsenal v Leeds in Carabao Cup
Premier League to resume on Boxing Day in 2022 after six-week World Cup break