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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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Shawcross backed for England call

Ryan Shawcross has moved a step closer to realising his senior England ambitions with the retirement of John Terry, according to Stoke City assistant manager David Kemp.

• Blog: Shawcross for England

Shawcross has twice turned down requests from Wales to consider playing for the national team, to concentrate his efforts on breaking into Roy Hodgson's World Cup plans for Rio in 2014.

Terry's controversial decision to retire from international duty leaves England manager Hodgson with another thorny issue ahead of next month's qualifiers against San Marino and Poland.

Hodgson will either have to perform a U-turn and recall Rio Ferdinand, after omitting him from the Euro 2012 squad having insisted the decision was based on "footballing reasons" and not linked to Terry's court case with Ferdinand's brother Anton.

The alternative is for Hodgson to plan long-term and integrate players such as Shawcross, and Tottenham's Steven Caulker, who was part of Stuart Pearce's GB team for the Olympics.

"I am sure he is in the England manager's thoughts and will have moved up one place in his pecking order," Kemp said.

"He is playing well on the big stage against big teams and that's surely going to catch somebody's eye."

Shawcross has two Under-21 caps, but has only been selected for one previous senior squad, when he was an unused substitute against Egypt in 2010, under former manager Fabio Capello.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis has been a long-standing champion of Shawcross' international credentials and team-mate Robert Huth recently claimed the former Manchester United defender is ready to step up to the senior squad.

In August this year, Wales manager Chris Coleman tried to persuade Shawcross to play for his new-look international team, but was unsuccessful.

"Chris came and had tne minutes with Ryan, but it was Ryan's decision. If he wants to play for England, the opportunity would be there. There's a new manager in Roy and I'm sure there will be chances," said Pulis.

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