Stoke City: Ryan Shawcross warned against complacency as he is named skipper again
RYAN Shawcross has been named Stoke City captain for a third successive season – but warned that the position does not guarantee him a starting place.
Manager Tony Pulis says the 24-year-old defender, who is one game off 200 for the Potters, deserves to retain the armband after playing such a prominent part in Stoke's recent success.
But he says the former Manchester United trainee knows he must maintain his high standards to ward off the challenge of any new signings at centre-half.
"He's done brilliantly with the armband and continues to grow in stature." said Pulis, speaking in Orlando on Stoke's American tour.
"That's why he's staying captain and why everyone around the club respects him so much.
"He's been a rock, especially when you consider how young he still is, and has grown with the club in his five years here.
"But all this doesn't mean that we won't leave him out if he loses form or needs a rest.
"You are only as good as your last game, and Ryan has to understand that if we bring players in, as I hope we will, he has to play well to stay in the team and to make sure he plays another 200 games."
Pulis said that, in keeping with the modern generation, Shawcross inspired by deed, rather than word.
"Ryan does it his way. When he's on the pitch he leads by example. Today, you don't really have the characters who holler and shout. Most players know their job and just get on with it."
Shawcross was recently linked with playing for Wales after the Welsh boss Chris Coleman went public on the fact he would have to consult Aaron Ramsey, whose leg was broken by the Stoke skipper two seasons ago, before deciding whether to offer him a place in the national squad.
But Chester-born Shawcross, who qualifies for Wales because he went to school there, has again hinted at his preference to one day play for England.
And Pulis, despite being a proud Welshman, says: "I still believe Ryan can play for England.
"If he has a good season, and one or two things drop his way, the door still isn't closed on that.
"But I'm behind Ryan 110 per cent in what he wants to do outside of this football club. They are his choices and I have to respect them as manager."
Meanwhile, Pulis declined to comment on new reports linking him with Wolves winger Michael Kightly.
The City manager has also been connected with talk of a move for either of fellow Wolves duo Steven Fletcher and Matthew Jarvis.
All three would command a hefty fee, however, and that appears to be at odds with repeated claims that Stoke must sell before they can buy big this summer.
JERMAINE Pennant played 90 minutes with Stoke's under-21 side, but they were beaten 3-0 at Kettering last night.
Left-back Michael Clarkson ended up in hospital with a suspected fractured cheekbone after an accidental clash of heads.