Etherington 'hurt' by England snub
The 29-year-old has consistently been the Potters' best player since his £2million move from West Ham in January 2009 and is frequently mentioned as a contender for England honours. However, so far Etherington has yet to receive a call, and he conceded it was particularly difficult to see Wolves winger Matt Jarvis named in the senior squad for the recent matches against Wales and Ghana. Etherington said: "With all that's gone on in my life, I try not to dwell on the past and what's not happened. I think I've been close on a number of occasions but it's not quite happened for me. "Whatever reasons they are, I don't know, only certain people can answer that. But if you look at my stats over the last couple of seasons, I'm up there for assists and I'm scoring goals as well. "Obviously it hurts. I'm not going to lie because I want to play for my country at the top level. I've played for England at every junior level, for the Under-21s as well, but I haven't quite got that full cap. "But I've always said there are some very good wingers in this country at the minute and that's what probably makes it that bit harder. 'You look at Stewart Downing and Ashley Young, and Matt Jarvis has done well. Adam Johnson and people like that are very good players, and there's a lot of competition there. But I'd like to think I'm knocking on the door at least. "There's quite a few about and they're doing well for their clubs so, although it hurts, I can't grumble. I like to think I'm doing my job for Stoke City and doing it well, so that's the main thing." Etherington has been virtually ever present over the last two seasons for Stoke, scoring 12 goals, none better than his slaloming run and finish in last weekend's 3-2 Premier League defeat at Tottenham. The former Peterborough trainee will be among the first names on the teamsheet for Sunday's FA Cup semi-final against Bolton at Wembley, but he knows things could all have worked out very differently. Etherington arrived at Stoke with a serious gambling problem and credits Potters boss Tony Pulis and the club for helping him turn his life around. He said: "I am happy. My form since I came to Stoke has improved and I feel I am a much better player than I ever was. "It's all to do with (being settled) to be honest. I've been off gambling for 18 months and things are good. I'm happy in my life, happy coming into training, happy at this club, and I think that speaks volumes on the pitch. "This club and the manager have been absolutely fantastic to me and I like to think I've repaid them. "I'm proud of myself. I've done some silly things in the past but I let bygones be bygones and the way I'm playing now I'd like to think I've proved that. "If you'd told me two or three years ago I'd have gone this long (without gambling), I wouldn't have believed it, but I have. A lot of it's down to me, but a lot of it's down to the people around me as well.''