It seems to me like a never-ending question, why has Ryan Shawcross been overlooked once again when it comes to international call-ups? Currently in his seventh season in the Premier League and captain of Stoke since 2010, Ryan has been one of the most consistent defenders in the Premier League ever since Stoke were promoted back in 2008.
He has been praised in the past by his previous manager Tony Pulis and by current coach Mark Hughes, both of whom have said in one way or another that Ryan deserves an England call up, while Mark Hughes recently said the back injury Ryan suffered on January 31st has likely robbed Shawcross of a call up for England’s next two internationals.
Looking at the current England squad for those two games against Lithuania and Italy, it seems the same old faces – who may not have exactly proven themselves as stand-out performers this season – are in the squad, for instance Chris Smalling and Phil Jones. Manchester United’s season has been far from successful (well in comparison to last season it has), but from the United of old it’s been hard to watch, and have the performances of Smalling and Jones earned them England call up? Well, contrasting their performances this season and last to someone like Ryan Shawcross would lead you to question their selection and wonder, is it possibly down to the shirt they wear? Perhaps if Ryan Shawcross was playing as well as he has this season and previous seasons but in a Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool or even Spurs kit, it could be a different story.
I guess that beckons the question, does Shawcross need to possibly join a bigger club, if the opportunity arose? People may argue that perhaps Shawcross wouldn’t be up to being in a top four side as he isn’t technical enough and is used to route one football, but that’s not the case since Mark Hughes has taken over at Stoke, who are now a more entertaining team to watch. A good example of a player who went from a mid-table Premier League team to a top four team and adapted with ease is Gary Cahill. From Bolton to Chelsea, Cahill is now one of the best defenders in the Premier League and an obvious choice for the England national team. Cahill spent an impressive four seasons with Bolton – even achieving an FA Cup semi final in 2011 – which incidentally they lost to Stoke 5-0.
In regards to the England national team, the days of John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole are gone and the defence is somewhere that needs addressing and England need to have consistency. Gary Cahill is the only obvious choice with Phil Jagielka the likely centre back pairing, however I don’t feel that Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are good enough contenders to be in the starting eleven for England, especially if their form from the last two seasons is considered. The current form of Ryan Shawcross, along with John Stones and even Aaron Creswell – who has had an impressive season thus far for West Ham – deserve a chance to prove themselves internationally compared to the likes of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Glen Johnson, who always seem to be selected due to their stature and the clubs they play for.
All in all, it appears that for these two international games coming up for England, Roy Hodgson has played it safe, apart from the addition of Harry Kane. In regards to the defence and the exclusion of Ryan Shawcross, like his managers and I assume Stoke fans, I feel it has been a mistake. Hopefully one day Ryan Shawcross gets another England chance and the praise he deserves.