Shawcross sticks up for vilified duo

Wolves skipper Henry was shown a red card on Saturday for a sliding

tackle that sent Wigan’s Jordi Gomez into a cartwheel, and a

challenge from City midfielder De Jong the next day left

Newcastle’s Hatem Ben Arfa with a broken leg. In each case the

tackler has been widely vilified, with Henry – who was also

involved in the collision earlier this season which saw Fulham

striker Bobby Zamora break his leg – publicly apologising for the

Gomez challenge and De Jong being left out of Bert van Marwijk’s

Holland squad for the Euro 2012 qualifiers against Moldova and

Sweden. In February, Shawcross found himself in the spotlight

having made a tackle that fractured Arsenal midfielder Aaron

Ramsey’s leg, and the Potters centre-back insists the speed of the

game means that some challenges will inevitably be mistimed. Asked

if he felt the criticism of players like Henry and De Jong was too

harsh, Shawcross said: “Yes, sometimes it is. “As a player, the

likes of Henry and De Jong I’m sure didn’t go out to injure another

player on purpose. “It’s part and parcel of football – they are

tough-tackling central midfielders whose games are based on making

tackles, winning the ball and then giving it to the ball-players.

Sometimes injuries are caused. “You have just got to accept in

these times, with the ball moving so fast and the player moving so

fast, sometimes you are going to mistime tackles and that is when

injuries can happen.” Shawcross received a three-match suspension

after being sent off for the foul on Ramsey. His next start was

against Everton and the 23-year-old points to an incident in that

game as evidence of the fine margins involved in modern-day

tackling. “In the game I returned in against Everton, there was a

tackle exactly the same as the Ramsey one but I was a bit quicker

and got the ball, and that shows the difference,” Shawcross said.

“It is just a case of half-seconds between you getting the ball or

not, and sometimes if you don’t get the ball, you can cause serious

injury, which has been shown at the weekend. “But it is part of

football and something that we have to accept.” The Ramsey incident

came on the same weekend that Shawcross received his first call-up

to the England squad, although the defender did not play in the

friendly against Egypt and has not returned to the international

fold since. Shawcross feels his form is improving as he looks to

emulate last season’s standards, and he has also backed Jermaine

Pennant to earn a first England cap if the new Stoke winger can

continue to produce performances like those he has so far following

his move from Real Zaragoza in August. “He has definitely got the

quality,” Shawcross said. “I don’t think he has played enough games

at the moment to get in the England squad, but I’m sure if he gets

a run of 10 or 15 games and performs like he has done in the last

couple, he will be in the reckoning.”