I was going to write a piece about Shawcross' credentials to make the next England squad before the news of Terry's international retirement, but now that decision has been made the case for Ryan's inclusion is more convincing than ever before.
I know the poor lad plays for the media whipping boys that are Stoke City but his performances over the last few years have been as consistent as any further up the England pecking order, in fact, when you look at the likes of Lescott making regular mistakes, it all gets rather annoying.
There are many reasons why people feel our captain has been overlooked; personally I feel it's down to two things, the Ramsey tackle and the club he plays for. Neither of those 'reasons' deserve to be taken into any consideration when coming to pick a squad to play a game of football, sadly it appears that message doesn't make it on to the particular hymn sheet given to the England managers though.
Shawcross' continued exclusion behind the likes of Jagielka and Lescott are one thing, and one could argue either way on the merits of each, but the introduction of the likes of Smalling and Caulker ahead of Shawcross really leaves a sour taste. Here we have an English centre back, 24-years-old, captain of a mid-table Premier League side, who led his team to an FA Cup Final and into Europe. If you applied those credentials to 'John Smith' from any top seven club, they would one of the first names on the team sheet, though because it's a Stoke player, trivial facts like form and consistency go out the window.
So will our Ryan get his chance now Terry has retired? I for one absolutely believe he should, I can't think of any player better suited to replace the natural defender the former England captain was. Many point to the fact that he doesn't play against European opposition and in doing so ignore the fact that not only did he lead his side on to a record-breaking European run going toe to toe with the likes of Dynamo Kiev, Besiktas and Valencia but I'm pretty sure he plays against the best players the world has to offer on a weekly basis in the Premier League.
So that's one myth debunked, now what about the other one, that he can't pass. Shawcross will only do as the manager asks, as well he should (some may say this is an admirable trait for a national manager), and so we see a lot of long, direct passes up to the front men. In fact, this season in our new shape where possession is encouraged more so than in previous seasons we have seen his stats improve in this respect and this got me wondering about how he matches up to some of his competition for that centre-back berth.
I chose to use Ryan's ground 50/50's and interceptions as a measure of his successful defending and his pass success and forward pass percentage to illustrate his passing ability. All stats are from our last game, against the European champions no less, in comparison to Caulker (against QPR) and Cahill (against us!)
|Ground 50/50's won||89%||75%||50%|
|Forward passes own half||63%||54%||37%|
Whilst the stats above aren't really the best sample, it is indicative of these key areas for a defender. Shawcross betters his opponents in every respect, including passing, and not just meaningless ones between defenders, he played more positive forward passes than those considered so much more cultured.
Whether Mr Hodgson chooses to recognise his form this season is another question entirely but there are at least 25,000 people and maybe even a few neutrals that know this season, there aren't many better English centre halves plying their trade than Ryan Shawcross - your move Roy.
Vis Unita Fortior
(All stats provided by @EPLIndex)