Stoke City: Ryan Shawcross urged to focus on job in hand amid transfer speculation
STOKE boss Tony Pulis believes skipper Ryan Shawcross has yet to hit the peak of his powers.
Fresh from being called up by England for their World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland, the 25-year-old defender has found himself at the centre of more transfer speculation.
Former club Manchester United – who Stoke visit today (3pm) – are rumoured to have been joined by Chelsea and Tottenham in keeping a keen eye on Shawcross' impressive development.
But Pulis says his captain hasn't fulfilled his potential just yet... and is eager to see him blossom at the Britannia.
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"I think that because of his size, he won't mature until he's 27 or 28," he explained.
"That's when he will peak. So we still haven't seen the best of him.
"He's a lovely lad to work with... very dedicated. He's level-headed and down-to-earth. We make sure he stays that way.
"Now he's got to get back to work – he's up there now watching videos."
Pulis, pictured, first set eyes on Shawcross five years ago when he went incognito to a non-league ground for what must have been his best bit of scouting in 20 years of management.
"I went to watch him in a pre-season game for United's reserves at Hyde and stood with the fans," he recalled.
"Sometimes you watch a game and think 'yes, he's right for us'. I watched him for 20 minutes and thought that.
"He was a big, gangly skinny thing and very raw then. But he's got better as the years have gone on.
"We were very fortunate to get Sir Alex to say we could get him on loan, and then do a deal to sign him."
Ferguson agreed a £2m sale in January 2008, but also insisted on a clause that Stoke must inform him of any future third-party offer for Shawcross.
Pulis believes that was a small price to pay because Shawcross has since advanced his career better at Stoke than he would have done at United.
"When you look at (Nemanja) Vidic and (Rio) Ferdinand being there, I'm not sure he'd have made the progress he's made here.
"I'm sure Sir Alex is pleased as well that one of his players has come through."
Pulis is weighing up recalling Andy Wilkinson for Geoff Cameron at right-back following his return from a three-match ban at Old Trafford today.
But midfielder Glenn Whelan (hamstring) is set to miss out, with Dean Whitehead his probable replacement.