Stoke City: Ryan Shotton 'can make Premier League impact'
STOKIES are being urged to cheer one of their own when Ryan Shotton makes his first Premier League start since last April.
The Fenton-born defender-cum-midfielder is pencilled in to start at full-back against Fulham tomorrow (3pm) following injuries to both Andy Wilkinson and Marc Wilson.
And it's a dramatic return to favour for last season's young-player-of-the-year after being restricted to just one substitute appearance this term before replacing the injured Wilkinson in Monday's 1-1 draw at West Ham.
"Ryan came in and did really well and I was pleased for him, so he will come into the frame," said manager Tony Pulis.
"Losing two full-backs has been a disappointment, but Geoff Cameron has done smashing and now we are hoping Ryan will take his chance."
He certainly did last season when forcing his way from the fringes to play a goal-scoring role (in various positions) in both the Premier League and the Europa League.
A total of 14 starts and nine substitute appearances was a handsome return for the Academy product previously boasting just two sub outings to his name in the top flight.
Competition had intensified so much by the end of the last summer transfer window, however, that Shotton couldn't even make the bench for the six games preceding Monday's trip to West Ham.
He might even have gone out on loan for some much-needed game time after being courted by Championship sides Leeds and Huddersfield.
But with Wilson nursing a broken leg, Wilkinson injuring a disc in his back and the January transfer window still eight games away, the 24-year-old now appears to have time at Stoke to reprise last season's more impressive form.
"He's had a good spell in the team and he's had an indifferent spell in the team, said Pulis, "but he's only a young kid and it's tough to establish yourself in the Premier League.
"He will look forward to playing on Saturday, which is good.
"I'm sure the fans will be right behind him because they love to see a local lad out there who's come through the system.
"We've played seven away and five at home, so we have to make our home games count and that's always been the case at Stoke City in the Premier.
"The next two home games (Fulham tomorrow and Newcastle next Wednesday) will be tough and we need our supporters behind the lads.
"They have an enormous part to play and hopefully they will do that in the next four or five days."