Critical time for John Stones, Tyrone Mings and Conor Coady in the race for the Qatar World Cup plane

JOHN STONES, Tyrone Mings and Conor Coady lived the Three Lions dream last summer.

The defenders were part of a heroic England squad that defeated the European Championship on penalties.

Coady will join Everton in search of playing time

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Coady will join Everton in search of playing timePhoto credit: Getty
Mings was stripped of his captaincy at Villa

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Mings was stripped of his captaincy at VillaPhoto credit: Getty
Stones is not a regular at Man City

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Stones is not a regular at Man CityPhoto credit: Getty

Yet if we fast-forward a year, Gareth Southgate would have wasted a trip if he had seen any of them on the season’s opening weekend.

Stones, Mings and Coady have fallen out of favor with Manchester City, Aston Villa and Wolves.

All three will have big decisions to make in the coming weeks if they are to make it to this year’s Qatar World Cup.

Liverpool fan Coady, who had his Everton inquest yesterday ahead of a loan move from Wolves, has never let his club or country down.

Coady didn’t play a minute of Euro action – but his infectious personality had him hailed as England’s player of the tournament by Three Lions assistant Steve Holland.

Wolves boss Bruno Lage describes him in the same glowing words – but can’t guarantee him games now.

For the past five years, the Scouser has probably been the first name on their team sheet.

But that was in a three-man defense and Lage favored two central defenders in a four-man defense.

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The Portugal manager brought together England rivals Max Kilman and new £20.5m Nathan Collins against Leeds in a 2-1 defeat on opening day – and Coady asked for directions to the bench.

The road to Merseyside will be more familiar to the defender who came through the Anfield club’s famed academy.

However, half his family are Toffees supporters and Coady will have no problem wearing his heart on Everton’s blue sleeve.

He now has three months to prove himself before boss Southgate names his squad for Qatar and Wolves don’t stand in his way after seven years of outstanding service.

So Coady will head to the blue pastures to rekindle his World Cup dream.

Meanwhile, Mings’ fall can be attributed to a drop in form last season.

It has largely been forgotten that Dean Smith axed Mings in charge of Villa for his last home game against West Ham.

Despite starring in three of England’s Euro games last summer, Mings did not make the Southgate squad at the end of last season.

Villa boss Steven Gerrard urged the centre-back to focus on his own game this summer – and installed midfielder John McGinn as his new skipper.

Mings didn’t even make it as one of Gerrard’s two vice-captains – with new signing Diego Carlos and goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez being favoured.

After struggling with a groin injury, Mings then lost his starting spot to Ezri Konsa and Carlos for Saturday’s 2-0 opening defeat by Bournemouth.

With that, Mings has now lost his place in England, the Villa captaincy and his place in Gerrard’s team.

Gerrard said yesterday: “When I made the captaincy decision, I gave him a challenge – ‘if you go back to your consistent best, you’re back on the team’.

“He’s also missed some practice time due to injury and there’s a problem in the background too.

“If Tyrone gets back to his best and looks me in the eye and shows he’s ready to play, then he’ll have opportunities.”

Finally, Stones City’s human boomerang remains.

Despite losing his Etihad spot to Aymeric Laporte last season, the ball-playing centre-back started all seven matches of England’s Euros after impressing as manager Pep Guardiola’s back-up right-back.

In fact, he was Southgate’s most-used outfielder with 679 minutes playing time – surpassed only by Jordan Pickford’s 690 minutes.

But Stones has returned to work after missing City’s preseason tour of the United States because he failed to meet immigration requirements.

That gave Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake a chance to start the season for City and – with Laporte due to return from knee surgery in September – Stones faces a battle for crucial minutes.

Southgate’s wounded Lions really pack a punch. . .

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5957995/crunch-time-england-qatar-world-cup-stones-coady-mings/ Critical time for John Stones, Tyrone Mings and Conor Coady in the race for the Qatar World Cup plane

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