MATTHEW ETHERINGTON is hoping to force his way back in to Tony Pulis’ starting eleven over the next few weeks . . . after enduring a period of frustration on the sidelines.
The 31-year-old winger hasn’t started a game in the Barclays Premier League since the opening day draw with Reading at the Madejski Stadium, however, he impressed from the bench during Saturday’s 2-0 victory against Swansea City.
Etherington is hoping that his cameo performance can provide him with the springboard to build upon, and recapture the same form that had seen him linked with an England call up just 18 months ago.
“It has been frustrating for me because I know that my form hasn’t been anywhere near the levels which I am capable of over the past year or so,” he told stokecityfc.com.
“It is disappointing not to be starting games, but I fully respect the manager’s decision. The team has been doing well recently so I can’t complain too much.
“The biggest disappointment though, like I have said so many times before, has been my own form, but I don’t want to go over old ground – all I will say is I am doing everything I can to get back to my best.”
He added: “I am working as hard as I ever have done in training to try to get back in the team again, and that is what I will continue to do.”
Peter Crouch maintained his fine start to the 2012/13 campaign by firing home a clinically taken double to sink the Swans at the Britannia Stadium at the weekend, and secure the Potters their first three points of the season.
Following the game, Etherington spoke of his bemusement as to why the striker has been overlooked at international level by both Fabio Capello and current boss Roy Hodgson.
“His goal-scoring record at international record is second to none, and then you have a look at how many he has scored here since he arrived, for me he should be in the team.
“He isn’t just about scoring goals though, he can hold the ball up and bring others in to play – for us he is absolutely priceless, and he displayed his class again at the weekend.”
He added: “Crouchy should be in the England squad, it is a given in most people’s eyes to be honest with you. We are light at the moment up front and Peter should be in there. It is puzzling why he isn’t.”