Pulis backs Potters duo for England

Stoke manager Tony Pulis has backed Matthew Etherington and Ryan Shawcross to make a late attempt to gatecrash England’s World Cup squad.

Both players have become a permanent fixture in the Potters’ first XI this term, their second in the Premier League.

They currently sit seven points clear of the relegation zone and put up a gritty display in a 2-0 defeat at Arsenal.

Etherington has provided Pulis’ side with pace down the left this season while Shawcross’ performances in the Potters’ defence have caused him to be linked with a move to, among others, Liverpool.

England’s World Cup campaign may begin in a little more than six months’ time but Pulis believes any injuries to the current squad could open the door for both players.

“I think with left-sided players, if there were one or two injuries to the squad, Matty has a chance of getting in,” the Stoke boss said.

“He’s done really well. Shawcross has done the same. Matty has showed against a very good team yesterday that he has real quality.

“He has settled down, sorted out his private life and he’s done really well for us.”

Many had tipped the Potters for an immediate return to the Championship following their promotion to the top flight in 2008.

Pulis’ side were criticised for their direct approach during their first season in the league and many of Stoke’s goals came from Rory Delap’s long throws.

Despite the criticism, Stoke finished 12th and are not considered among the favourites for the drop this year.

A summer spending spree which included the likes of Tuncay Sanli and Robert Huth also raised expectations at the Britannia Stadium.

Pulis has warned, however, that it will take time before Stoke can push on from their current position and establish themselves as a regular fixture in the league over the next few seasons.

“We have to keep our feet on the ground and improve gradually,” he said.

“We need three years in the Premier League. Get that and you will see the club push on but we need that, in terms of the finances and infrastructure of the club.

“We will do our best to finish as high as we can in those years.”

Pulis admitted his side were in awe of the surroundings at the Emirates Stadium and concedes Arsenal are a club who Stoke look up to.

“We were overawed yesterday,” he said. “It’s the stadium, everything. It’s such a great place to come and play and you have to get used to it.

“Having said that, we did brilliantly at Tottenham. We were smashing there but we started slowly and we were waiting to see what Arsenal are about.

“Arsene Wenger has stuck an identity on the football club with the young players he’s developed,” Pulis added.

“I think the manager has left an identity on the club by the development of his own top young players.”