Stoke City: Ryan Shawcross delighted with England call-up
STOKE skipper Ryan Shawcross is being urged to set his sights as high as 50 England caps following his return to the international squad.
Shawcross is in Roy Hodgson's party for World Cup qualifiers at home to San Marino next Friday and away in Poland four days later.
It leaves him poised to possibly become the first Stoke player to represent England since Mark Chamberlain played against Finland in October 1984.
"I'm delighted to be selected for the England squad," said Shawcross, whose call-up coincided with his 25th birthday.
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"The manager broke the news to me on the training ground, so I am happy and looking forward to joining up with the squad."
His inclusion has been applauded by chairman, manager and team-mates after a campaign to have his form rewarded with a second call-up.
"It's great news for the club and great for him," said chairman Peter Coates.
"He's one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League, one who performs week-after-week for us, and we have been delighted with his progress.
"It is a culmination of all the hard work he has put in.
Manager Tony Pulis, who plucked him from Manchester United reserves back in 2007, added: "I'm delighted for the kid and his family. I'm also delighted for the recognition it gives the club. It's a proud moment for everyone.
"He just needs a chance to play now, and when he gets it I'm sure he will take it. But for now, his focus must be solely on Sunday's game at Liverpool."
Shawcross was first called into the England squad by Fabio Capello in February 2010, but he remained on the bench for a friendly against Egypt and has since been unsuccessfully courted by Wales.
His path into the starting 11 is currently blocked by the older and more experienced trio of Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott.
But Stoke's legendary centre-half Denis Smith says his latest inclusion could be the start of something special for a player seen by many as a possible heir apparent to the kind of defender the now-retired John Terry has been for his country over the past decade.
"What he has got to do now is get into the team," said Smith, "and then he could get 10, 20, 30... 50 caps.
"Why not? He's still young for a centre-back and he is improving all the time.
"I am delighted for him. The only pity is that Peter Crouch isn't in the squad."
Crouch was by-passed again by Hodgson after he opted instead for Andy Carroll following his recent return from a hamstring injury.
Hodgson explained: "In being faithful to the players who have been with us so far and looking to the future,there is no reason for me to have Peter (Crouch) as well.
"Both of them are not going to play together because they are similar types."
Aaron Lennon, like Crouch in the England wilderness since 2010, is recalled as England aim to build on the four points pocketed from games against Moldova and Ukraine.
Explaining his call-up of Shawcross, Lennon and Arsenal full-back Kieran Gibbs, Hodgson added: "I have seen them from the stands, but it will be nice to have a chance to work with them.
"Shawcross is a player that has impressed me, not only in the past couple of years, but also at the start of this season.
"He deserves a call-up and a chance to show how he can compete with the others."
Ryan's rise towards national service: Pages 58 & 59