Stoke City: This is my chance to cement England squad place, says Shawcross
RYAN Shawcross is hoping tonight's game in Sweden will give him the springboard to become a regular in England's senior squad.
Shawcross stands by for his debut desperate to do himself justice in front of boss Roy Hodgson.
And he knows that with the likes of Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott ahead of him in Hodgson's thoughts, tonight could be the moment he starts making inroads into the current pecking order of England centre-halves.
"There's a lot of experienced players ahead of me," the Stoke skipper acknowledged, "so it's up to me to perform in training and get a chance.
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"There's lads in the squad and not in the squad because they are injured (Manchester United pair Phil Jones and Chris Smalling), but hopefully I can play well if I get a chance."
Shawcross says he is beginning to feel more relaxed in the England set-up after retaining his place in Hodgson's squad following a spell on the bench during last month's World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland.
"It's always good to come away with the national team," he continued, "and now I've been a few times I'm starting to feel at home.
"Hopefully we can get a positive result in Sweden and that's the main point of this week really."
Playing regularly in the Premier League has put Shawcross in the international shop window – and he believes last season's foray into the Europa League did him no harm.
"If you're playing well, you get noticed. At Stoke last year we played in Europe and that got us a few headlines," he explained.
"On a personal level, if I'm doing okay and being consistent, I always felt that I had enough to hopefully break into the England squad and luckily enough I have done, so I want to stay in it."
The Chester-born defender went to school over the border and so ended up playing for Welsh schools as a youngster.
But he insists he has never lost sight of his dream to play for the country of his birth at senior level.
And that's why, having already played for England under-21s, he politely declined offers from successive Wales managers in the past 18 months.
"When I was a schoolboy I played for Wales because I went to school in Wales, but when I turned 16 there was a rule that said I couldn't play for Wales.
"But in recent months that rule changed and I can play for Wales again. But I've always wanted to play for England and I spoke to Chris Coleman, and Gary Speed before that, and made it clear that I wanted to play for England, so there was never really any choice."
Shawcross could enjoy the distinction of sharing the same pitch as Steven Gerrard on what will be the midfielder's 100th England appearance if he plays this evening.
And that brings Shawcross particular satisfaction after Gerrard took him under his wing when he was called into his first England squad back in March 2010.
"He's been great," said Shawcross. "In my first squad he made me feel welcome.
"He's probably one of the most consistent players of the last decade and it's a mark of how well he's performed that he's got to 100 caps.
"As a player, he's fantastic, probably one of the best in the Premier League."