RYAN SHAWCROSS could etch himself further into Stoke City history on Friday evening . . . if he features for England in their 2014 World Cup qualifier against Group H minnows San Marino.
The 25-year-old defender, who has played a pivotal role in helping the Club to establish themselves as a Premier League side over the past five seasons, will become the first Potter to play for the Three Lions since Mark Chamberlain achieved the same feat way back in 1984.
This is the second time that the defender has received international recognition having been called up by former boss Fabio Capello for the friendly encounter against Egypt at Wembley Stadium in March 2010.
However, on that occasion, the Buckley-born star failed to pick up his first England cap, though current manager Roy Hodgson dropped his strongest hint yet that Shawcross could start in Friday night’s clash in London.
“I don’t know if it’s a question of experimenting, but it may be a question of utilising the squad which I have at my disposal,” the former West Brom and Liverpool manager said at Thursday’s pre-match press conference.
“We have a very important game in Poland on Tuesday, so of course a lot of my thoughts this week have been based on how best to use the squad knowing really, that whatever team I choose at Wembley is likely to go out there and win the game.”
Hodgson is already without the suspended Steven Gerrard and Glenn Johnson for the clash, whilst Frank Lampard and young Chelsea defender Ryan Bertrand will also both be absent having picked up injuries in the build up to the game.
Joleon Lescott is almost certain to be a non-starter given he would miss Tuesday’s crucial game with Poland through suspension should he receive a yellow card against San Marino, meaning that Shawcross is battling it out with Everton’s Phil Jagielka and Chelsea’s Gary Cahill for the two central defensive starting roles.
The only certain starter for the Three Lions is Wayne Rooney, after the Manchester United star was handed the captaincy for the game at Wembley Stadium in the absence of Liverpool captain Gerrard.
Meanwhile, England Coach Gary Neville, who played with Shawcross during his time at Old Trafford, has given an endearing reference to the Stoke defender, citing him as the perfect role model for any aspiring young footballers.
“Any kid who has a dream should look at Ryan Shawcross maybe more than people at the highest elements of the game,” he said. “He is a great story and the fact he is in the England squad this week is something I am proud of.
“I remember playing with him when he was 16. He was a raw talent but someone who really wanted to make it. He wanted to use the last ounce of his energy to become a professional footballer.”
Neville added: “He had to leave Manchester United to get his chance. Not giving in and continuing to fight is a huge strength and he has been absolutely fantastic for Stoke.
“He deserves his opportunity this week and I am looking forward to seeing him because he represents the best of attitude, of working hard to get where you want. I am sure he will improve and get better.”