Stoke City: Shotton accepts battle to win back starting place
RYAN Shotton says he doesn't expect any favours from close pal Andy Wilkinson as he tries to win back his place in the first team.
Shotton serves a one-game ban for Saturday's home game with Everton after he was sent off at Aston Villa.
Fit-again Wilkinson is set to return at right-back, leaving a frustrated Shotton hoping the busy Christmas schedule will offer him another chance.
"Wilko is fit now and I think he is going to step back in," said Shotton, who was at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire yesterday as the Stoke players paid a Christmas visit to youngsters at the Children's Centre.
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"He never disappoints, so will probably keep his place.
"To be sent off and be banned for a match is frustrating.
"But it is about the squad. We have games coming thick and fast over Christmas so I have to stay fit and focused and see what happens."
Shotton was desperately unlucky to receive a second yellow card at Villa Park for what replays showed wasn't actually a foul.
Referee Roger East thought the defender had tripped Fabian Delph as the Villa midfielder tried to break over the halfway line, but any slight contact looked accidental.
Shotton said: "It is frustrating. I didn't want to touch their player, my hands were in the air and I tried to stop.
"I don't know whether he clipped my heel or knee as we crossed, but he went down and unfortunately the referee saw it as a yellow card."
To add to the frustration, Shotton had hardly put a foot wrong in his five games after Wilkinson injured his back at West Ham.
A modest Shotton said: "I think I am just fortunate that I came in at the right time. The lads have been playing great and I am just part of it. Now hopefully the lads can kick on and make sure we get a win again on Saturday."
He's bound to be a little jealous of Wilkinson at the weekend, but the fact the home-grown duo are competing for the same place doesn't stop them getting on.
Shotton said: "I'm good friends with Wilko and we always wish each other well.
"We'd both love to be playing and are both very passionate about the club, but we are in the same position.
"Now there's an opportunity for him so I'll wish him luck on Saturday and hope we win."
Although it has been hard to pick fault with Shotton's performances on the pitch, manager Tony Pulis did sound a note of caution last week when he said the 24-year-old had to 'sort his head out' to make sure he was on top of his game for every training session.
Shotton agrees he was below par at one session last week and has no problem with being told so by the manager.
He said: "The manager did come up to me last Tuesday and say he didn't think I had done as well as I could in training.
"That is fair. Some days you are not great in training, but the manager is right, your attitude has to be spot on."