Manchester City defenders John Stones and Vincent Kompany will be reunited on the game’s biggest stage when England face Belgium in the battle to top Group G, but the pair will not discuss football according to the Three Lions centre-back.
When Kompany was fit the pair forged an important pairing in City’s formidable title-winning defence in 2017-18 and Stones said he hoped the injuries that have dogged his team-mate over the last three years would not prevent him from being involved on Thursday.
After missing the Red Devils’ opening 3-0 victory over Panama, Kompany was an unused substitute as they beat Tunisia 5-2 in their second group game.
Looking ahead to the game in Kaliningrad, Stones told FIFA TV: “I love Vinny, he’s a top guy as well as a top player, and it will be great to see him and hopefully he’s fit and ready.
“It will be nice to have a chat, but probably [about] non-football-related things!
“It will be a strange rivalry I suppose, because we are used to playing on the same team, as with Kevin [De Bruyne], but when we cross the line it’s that healthy respect.
“We all want to win the game, and afterwards we’ll shake hands and it’ll be how it always is.”
The winner of Thursday’s clash will top Group G and face the runner-up in Group H in the round of 16 and Stones said he expected a tough task against Kompany, De Bruyne and Co.
Fellow City players Fabian Delph, Raheem Sterling and Kyle Walker complete a healthy contingent of Premier League champions in England’s squad and Stones said Gareth Southgate’s men are looking forward to being tested against some of the world’s best.
“It will be a very interesting game,” he said. “Belgium are a top international team with a lot of quality players, and it will be interesting for me with a few familiar faces.
“But two top sides going against each other is what you want, it’s what I want as a player, because being up against top players brings the best out of you – you want to be tested against them.”