England boss Roy Hodgson has defended his decision to name Ryan Shawcross in the England squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
The England centre-back spot has come under the spotlight in recent weeks, with the retirement of former Three Lions captain John Terry, and subsequent revelations from Hodgson about Rio Ferdinand’s international future.
And despite Shawcross’ reputation as a hard-hitting defender, Hodgson has backed the Stoke man to justify his decision by displaying a rage of qualities on the field in matches against San Marino and Poland.
“He must have developed in the time since he was last in the squad, of course,” Hodgson said.
“Furthermore, he’s captain of Stoke. When you captain a team, it shows you have certain qualities. Other managers running Premier League clubs are not stupid. He’s clearly got a lot of qualities.
“My contact with him has been from the opposing bench, and he’s always had good games. He’s got centre-back qualities and, like all centre-backs, he’ll be accused from time to time of overstepping the mark. But that would be a harsh criticism. I’ve not seen that myself.”
Hodgson also moved to laugh off claims that the inclusion of Shawcross was largely due to interest shown in the player by Wales, for whom he is also eligible.
“I’d like to think that if I’ve called up Shawcross, he has a genuine chance of playing for us and deserves to be in the squad,” said Hodgson.
“Wales didn’t come into my thinking at all. He’s been doing very well over a period of time and it’ll be interesting to have a look at him.
“With (Carl) Jenkinson, I am aware that Finland are after him. It’s not a matter of that. He’s on our radar and someone we’re keen to explore.”
The 65-year-old also spoke about Fraser Forster, Aaron Lennon and Kieran Gibbs, who have all been called up.
“We know a lot about Forster but we haven’t seen him at close-hand,” he said.
“Aaron Lennon has started the season exceptionally well and deserves a call up after a long absence. Kieran Gibbs, like Jenkinson, has started very well for Arsenal. On this occasion, we decided to go with Gibbs and keep Jenkinson up our sleeves.”