England ace John Stones expresses his “frustrations” with VAR at the World Cup in Qatar

John Stones insists that England are not about to derail the love train: all they want is for the referees to get on board. The centre-back seemed surprised to hear the nickname for the 2018 World Cup Three Lions set piece routine, where players stand in a line to make it difficult for defenders to mark them.

“Is that what it’s called?! The love train? I’m going to keep it that way,” Stones promised. But he admitted the ploy didn’t work as well as England did in this final against Iran, as the first attempt to use it ended with him and Harry Maguire sprawled on the ground without even whiffing a penalty.

“I don’t know what that VAR thought process was,” Stones said. “I know Harry stood out a bit in that first type of instance, but I’m not one to go down and he was directly appealing for a penalty. I didn’t even realize that the same thing had happened to Harry.

“And looking back on it, I’m a bit baffled that nothing was called and then given late in the game to Iran for something that, in my opinion, was never, ever, ever a penalty. There has to be some sort of consistency and that’s where everyone’s frustration is.

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“We sit in an arbitration meeting before the tournament and they tell us certain things and my frustration is when those things are not backed up. We try to adapt our game to the way they want to refer to things and I understand that they have a super difficult job nowadays with all the cameras and so many options that are different from others.

“But there has to be some clarity.” Stones is expected to start again against the USA, when he can once again partner Maguire, with Eric Dier the other potential option. Dier replaced Maguire against Iran after Manchester United complained of feeling bad.

The Stones’ 90-minute match against Iran was his 60th cap for England and the Manchester City defender showed his pride in reaching the milestone. He said: “Before the Iran game, I knew I was at 59, actually. A while back, when I wasn’t on the team, you probably all heard me say that it might have been the last.

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“So since I’ve come back to the team, I’ve given everything I’ve got and I appreciate everything and I never take it for granted every time I play.

“I have my goals in my head of where I would love to be. I spoke to my family after the Iran game and told them how proud I personally was to play 60 games. Now I hope I can get many more”.

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