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Sunday, September 30, 2012
Etherington backs Crouch, Shawcross

David Instone

Matthew Etherington believes his Stoke team-mates Peter Crouch and Ryan Shawcross are suffering an anti-Potteries bias by being overlooked for the England squad.

Etherington spoke up for his colleagues after representation from the England camp was again conspicuous by its absence to watch Saturday's 2-0 victory over Swansea.

Crouch scored both goals to take his tally to five in the last five matches on top of the 14 he netted last season. But neither Fabio Capello nor Roy Hodgson have ventured to the Britannia Stadium to watch him or skipper Shawcross, leaving Stoke without a senior England international since Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's father Mark Chamberlain won the last of his eight caps in 1984.

And Etherington shares the view that Stoke players have to do more than those from more glamorous clubs to catch the eye.

"You would think so because Crouchie has been like that for a while," he said. "He should be in the squad, no doubt about it.

"His international record is second to none and, since he came here, he has been scoring regularly, and that's his job. He's priceless for us. We (nationally) are light on centre-forwards at the moment and Crouchie should be in. He has got five goals this season and was it 15 last season? He has got plenty and it's a puzzle."

Shawcross has had a flirtation with a first cap by being named in the squad for a friendly at home to Egypt and is hoping to move a step closer now after recently declining the opportunity to accept an invitation from Wales.

The international retirement of John Terry appears to have pushed the former Manchester United youngster further up the pecking order but Hodgson was at Old Trafford on Saturday and at Villa Park on Sunday rather than in the Potteries.

"Ryan should be in the frame as well but you play for Stoke and there seems to be a certain stigma," Etherington added. "If no England manager has been here, it says it all. It's frustrating. If the England manager says he's going to pick players on merit... well it doesn't always work.

"I don't want to come across as though we are Stoke and everyone hates us but Ryan should be mentioned as well. Although there are a lot of good centre halves, he has a great chance. He's only young and is learning the game.

"Him and Robert Huth have got to be one of the best partnerships and if Ryan keeps performing as he is, he has to be in with a chance. First and foremost, the manager here wants him to be a defender but he is trying to improve on the ball. He works hard in training every day and has a bright future."

Etherington hopes his own standing, albeit only at club level, is on an upward curve again after he made a bright contribution on Saturday after going on at the three-quarter stage.

Manager Tony Pulis believes he has been in a form dip but spoke before the weekend of detecting signs he was coming back towards his best.




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