Lou Macari: Hodgson should cap Ryan Shawcross's big night by playing him from the start
IF I was Roy Hodgson I wouldn't just give Ryan Shawcross a run out tomorrow, I'd play him from the start and for the full 90 minutes.
Playing Sweden in a friendly is the perfect opportunity for the Stoke City captain to show what he's all about and what he can bring to the England set-up.
As Ryan has now spent three games on the bench for England, it would be crazy for Hodgson not to have some kind of look at him, but a proper 90 minutes is the best way to judge him.
I certainly hope he doesn't come on as a substitute, because it's difficult for any player to pick up the pace and to try to make a favourable impression – especially in the second half of these games when players are coming and going like rush hour buses.
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If Ryan did start, you would assume it would be alongside the more experienced Phil Jagielka or Gary Cahill.
But I wouldn't have a problem if it was Shawcross and fellow newcomer Steven Caulker linking up at the heart of England's defence.
It is only a friendly, there are no three crucial points for qualification up for grabs, so why not give them a go and see how they handle the game and the occasion?
Sweden should be a fair test if they can produce anything like the form that recently saw them come from 4-0 down to draw a World Cup qualifier 4-4.
To do that in any international would be impressive, but to do it on German soil was the stuff of miracles.
In some ways I'd hope Zlatan Ibrahimovic is up against Ryan because of his reputation.
Whether we like it or not, he's rated as one of the best strikers in Europe and that, in a strange way, would take the pressure off our man by lowering expectations a little.
One thing's for sure, if Ryan comes out of the game with a solid performance and made no obvious mistakes then that should be enough to keep him in the squad and help him build from there long-term. It's been 26 years since a Stoke player last appeared for England, so every Stokie will be proud – and a bit nervous – when they see their man lining up before kick-off.
I just hope the lad himself isn't quite so nervous as those watching and is able to go out there and do himself justice.
His likely debut comes as news has leaked out about contract talks designed to keep him at Stoke for the long term.
Which brings me to the case of Raheem Sterling, another England newcomer who could also make his debut in Stockholm tomorrow and who is currently in contract talks with his club.
Regular readers will know my feelings on resting players for European matches because modern-day stars can't, apparently, cope with more than one game a week.
Well, last week we had Sterling being rested for Liverpool's Europa League tie with moneybags Anzhi Makhachkala in Moscow to ensure he was nice and fresh for their Premier League game at Chelsea three days later.
But if playing both games was too much for 17-year-old Sterling, how come 34-year-old Jamie Carragher was able to play in both?
As it happened, Carragher did well enough at Chelsea and wasn't exactly crawling on hands and knees come the last 20 minutes, while Sterling had the worst game I've seen him play so far in his fledgling career.
This resting of players is a nonsense, it really is, and I'm sure the general public is getting thoroughly fed up with all the excuses coming from the likes of Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers.
And I'm sure his American owners will be a bit puzzled as to why so many players were rested from the Europa League when Liverpool had been sitting top of their group.
Whether they like it or not, Liverpool have a million times better chance of winning in Europe this season than lifting the Premier League trophy.
If Rodgers didn't want to play Sterling in Moscow he should still have had him on the trip carrying the kit.
Why? Because by resting him like that, he is sending out the very dangerous signal to a teenager that he is now one of the top players at one of the top clubs in the country.
Is it any wonder, then, that youngsters like Sterling have swollen opinions of themselves when they have yet to achieve anything of real significance in their careers?
Nor was it the smartest move at a time when Liverpool appear to be wanting to tie him down to a new contract.
The net result is that Sterling, or his people, are saying £20,000-a-week isn't good enough Liverpool, how about £50,000-a-week?
After all, he might argue, the manager now considers him so important that he doesn't have to make trips to Moscow for Europa League ties.
I happen to believe Sterling could make a player, but he isn't one yet.
The trouble with today's game, however, is that we shower these kids with far too much money and bull before they've done anything to justify it.
And however good Sterling becomes, I wonder if he'll be playing in Moscow on a Thursday and Stamford Bridge on a Sunday when he's 34.
Somehow I doubt it.