Stoke City: Shawcross is England class, says City chairman
STOKE City's double centenarian, Ryan Shawcross, has been told not to give up on his England dream.
The Stoke captain's next competitive game will be his 200th for the Potters, following five years in which he's helped Stoke to promotion and four successive seasons in the Premier League.
But the 24-year-old has only earned fleeting international recognition, having been an unused substitute in a friendly against Egypt at Wembley in March 2010.
But Stoke chairman Peter Coates says the young defender is still improving and believes he has every chance of still forcing his way into England contention.
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He said: "Ryan is a very fine young player and we are very pleased to have him.
"Defensively he is as good as anyone. He's not quite scored the goals he did this past season, but that will come again. He is a work in progress."
John Terry and Rio Ferdinand appear to be coming to the end of their international careers, but Shawcross faces competition from a younger crop of central defenders.
Joleon Lescott, Phil Jagielka, Phil Jones and Martin Kelly all made Roy Hodgson's squad for the Euros ahead of Shawcross.
Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill, who both missed the Championships through injury, also appear to be favoured ahead of the Stoke defender.
But Coates added: "As for England, there are a lot of good defenders about, but Ryan is a fine young player too."
Shawcross, pictured below, is under contract until the summer of 2014, which means the future of Stoke's central defence is settled after Robert Huth signed a new deal this week which will keep him at the club until the summer of 2016.
Stoke signed Shawcross in a £2m deal from Manchester United in January 2008 after a successful five-month loan. Coates says that makes the youngster one of the club's best-ever signings.
The Stoke chairman, who is a member of the FA's international committee, says he was encouraged by England's start to the Euros.
Coates was in Donetsk to see England battle out a 1-1 draw with group favourites France on Monday. And speaking ahead of tonight's clash with Sweden in Kiev (7.45pm), he said: "I thought England played well all the way through and were on top until we scored.
"It was hot and the conditions made it tough, as did the fact France are a good side."
If England fail to beat Sweden, they will have to beat Ukraine in their final group game on Tuesday to progress to the quarter-finals.
But host nation Ukraine, who face France today, will also be able to qualify in that final game having beaten Sweden in their opening match.
Coates added: "It's hard to say whether Ukraine winning that opening game has made it harder for us. Football is so unpredictable.
"But we do have to win a game if we are to progress."
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