Lou Macari: Don't rule out Ryan for his England debut
RYAN Shawcross will have experienced a mixture of nerves and excitement when he reported for England duty yesterday.
The big Stoke defender has been the beneficiary of John Terry's retirement from international football as Roy Hodgson's side prepare for World Cup qualifiers against San Marino at Wembley on Friday and in Poland a week today.
Many people will assume Ryan is behind the likes of Joleon Lescott, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka for one of the two centre-back spots for the upcoming matches.
But should the City skipper feel like that? Not a bit of it... and it wouldn't surprise me to see him make his debut on Friday night.
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And I don't just mean as a late substitute when England have already got the cigars out to celebrate another victory.
No, I can see a case where Ryan is thrown in from the start to become the first Potter to wear the Three Lions on his shirt since Mark Chamberlain in 1984.
That's not wishful thinking, or me donning my Stoke-tinted glasses to champion the cause of the young man, either.
No, it's just with the standard of opposition England are up against in San Marino, it's the ideal chance for Roy Hodgson to take the plunge and allow Ryan to show what he can do.
Let's be honest, they're playing a bunch of amateurs – waiters, firemen and plumbers – who regularly ship five or six goals at home, let alone on their travels.
As a manager, if you hold any concerns over a player or if he's not experienced, you throw them in for fixtures like this.
Ryan's bound to be a bit apprehensive and nervous – he wouldn't be human if he wasn't – and that goes for players who have won 50 caps, let alone those making their debuts.
But it's a no pressure fixture England will win at a canter, and it's more than likely Ryan would have a decent game.
If it does happen, he can't automatically believe he's a big-game player, although there is a spot there to be nailed down for the next few years.
There isn't a centre-half who you'd say should definitely play, like in the mould of Terry or a young Rio Ferdinand.
So the opportunity is there for Ryan. He's been playing well at club level – and playing more regularly than the other centre-backs in the squad – so he has a real opportunity to make his mark.
And he'll have reported for duty in good heart after helping Stoke produce an excellent defensive display to earn a 0-0 draw at Liverpool on Sunday.
A lot has been said about Liverpool this season and what is wrong at Anfield.
But the fact of the matter is their performances have not been reflected in their results this season.
Anyone looking at the score would imagine the 3-0 loss at West Brom on the opening day of the season was a tonking, but it wasn't.
Luis Suarez had four good chances – perhaps even easy ones for a player of his ability – to have won the game that day.
Their displays against Manchester City and United were also promising as they get to grips with new manager Brendan Rodgers' philosophies. So although the Reds haven't yet hit the heights this season, a point gained at Anfield isn't to be sniffed at.