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Match 22
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Shawcross backed to stake England claim

Stoke City striker Peter Crouch believes Ryan Shawcross is on the verge of becoming a permanent fixture in the England set-up and the long-term replacement for John Terry.

Crouch's disappointment at being overlooked for the World Cup qualifiers against Poland and San Marino has been eased by what he feels is a long overdue call-up for Shawcross, who he rates as one of the most consistent defenders in the Premier League.

The forward was the first to congratulate Stoke team-mate Shawcross when he was included in Roy Hodgson's 23-man squad for the San Marino game at Wembley on Friday and the trip to Poland on Tuesday night.

Crouch is hoping the centre-back will get on the pitch to become the first Stoke player to win an England cap since Mark Chamberlain in 1984.

He said :"Everyone here is buzzing for Ryan. People have been talking about him for England for a number of years now. He has been so consistent.

"He and Robert Huth at the back have been first class for us, and I think it was only a matter of time before Ryan got in there. Hopefully he will get a chance because, if he does, he won't let anyone down.

"I have played with him for a couple of seasons now, and he has all the attributes to be a top defender. He is strong, good in the air, reads the game well and his distribution is good.

"You only have to look over the past couple of seasons and the way we have kept clean sheets and been difficult to beat. That is testament to the defence. I know we all work hard as a team defensively, but Ryan and Huthy are the stand-out defenders."

Crouch said the 25-year-old is respected throughout the club, adding: "He is our captain, and with that comes responsibility. There are a few big names at the club now, but it was never in doubt that he would remain as skipper. And we are very pleased our captain is in the international squad."

The striker's own England days look to be over after he was again left out of the squad in favour of Andy Carroll, even though he has the better goals record this term with five in eight matches. Carroll has failed to score in five attempts at West Ham.

"I will just enjoy playing for Stoke. I am loving it at the minute. I will continue to do as well as I can for Stoke, and if anything else happens, then great," he said.

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