LONDON • After watching John Stones make defensive mistakes while playing for England in the Nations League Finals in June, Tom Pope took to Twitter to say he would "love to play every week" against him.
"I'd get 40 a season!" tweeted the Port Vale striker, who went on to call the Manchester City defender "soft" and "weak".
Pope got his chance to prove he could get the better of Stones when the fourth-tier side were drawn against the Premier League champions in the third round of the FA Cup.
Both players started the game at the Etihad on Saturday night and, while the former did go on to nab the equaliser following Oleksandr Zinchenko's deflected opener, his team were ultimately outclassed 4-1 by City.
Sergio Aguero, Phil Foden and Taylor Harwood-Bellis' first goal sent the Cup holders through, but, afterwards, Pope jokingly tweeted that, having come up against Stones for the first time, he was "completely wrong and bang out of order" and was now confident of getting "more like 50".
There was no bad blood, however, between the pair, with both teams sharing selfies following the full-time whistle.
City manager Pep Guardiola said: "It was a pleasure. I saw the manager and the sporting director. It's nice for us to host these clubs and for their players to realise we are the same. We play at a different level but dreams are dreams."
His Port Vale counterpart, John Askey, added: "They have really looked after us. They invited the players in after the game and they have been having a bit of a laugh, especially about Popey and John Stones as you can imagine."
"Before the game, I was worried that teams have come here and been annihilated, but I'm sure the fans are proud of the team."
Separately, Leicester made 10 changes to the side who won 3-0 at Newcastle on New Year's Day, with manager Brendan Rodgers having one eye on the first leg of their League Cup semi-final tie with Aston Villa on Wednesday.
It did not derail their chances of progression, though, as the Foxes beat second-tier Wigan 2-0 at the King Power Stadium through an own goal by Tom Pearce and Harvey Barnes' strike.