The former England defender will be handed a rare start against Newcastle tonight, his first action since the resumption and only a tenth Premier League start this season. But having fallen well behind in the defensive pecking order at the Etihad, Guardiola conceded Stones could be tempted by at fresh start elsewhere in the summer.
“What we want, for his future and for ours, is for him to come back and play and to be able to play two, three or four months with no injuries,” said Guardiola.
“But he’s struggled with injuries, he has to come back. We want them fit and when they can’t play they are sad and worried.
“On the transfer market we speak at the end of the season. I’ve said many times I’m more than delighted with John as a person, as a pro, everything.
“What I want is the best for him. We’ll speak at the end of the season about what is going to happen.”
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Stones, 26, has seen his City career regularly interrupted by injury and has slipped behind Aymeric Laporte, Fernandinho, Eric Garcia and Nicolas Otamendi at the Etihad.
With Guardiola appearing to leave the exit door slightly ajar, Stones’s representatives are thought to be receptive to possible interest from other top flight clubs with both Arsenal and Everton on alert.
It is a far cry from April 2018 when Guardiola claimed as long as he was at City so would Stones.
“Sometimes my wish is not the wish of the players, or the wish of the situation for the club,” he said.
“At the moment I will feel it, if we have to change, we’ll talk to them, he’s a young player and we want him to be consistent, to train and recover.
“There are players who can play every three days for 11 months, others struggle more to be fit and we try to find the key to playing every three days. This is what we want.”
Guardiola has indicated Garcia could be a possible partner for Laporte next season for all that it remains likely City will be in the market for a centre half this summer.
The City boss has stressed repeatedly that Garcia makes very few mistakes, something that he has not been able to say about Stones.
“The quality of John is there, never doubt it for one second, it’s just when you don’t play, you are rotated and injured again,” he added. “You need minutes. This is what has happened with John.”
Possible Man City team (4-3-3) vs Newcastle:
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Mendy; De Bruyne, Rodri, Foden; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling