Pulis pushes duo's claims
Stoke boss Tony Pulis believes Matthew Etherington and Ryan Shawcross deserve call-ups to the England squad for the forthcoming Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro.
Both players have been instrumental in the Potters' unbeaten run through September, which has helped them recover from three straight losses at the start of the season and Pulis hopes the duo will hear from Fabio Capello when the England boss names his squad on Monday for the clash on October 12.
Pulis said: "In my opinion they must be very, very close. I'm not going to tell Capello who to pick, that's up to him and he's an experienced enough manager to know his own mind. But the two lads haven't done themselves any harm at all."
Defender Shawcross received his only senior international call-up for the friendly against Egypt in March, when he was an unused substitute, while Etherington is hoping to be involved for the first time.
Winger Etherington, 29, has been a revelation since moving from West Ham to Stoke in January 2009 and was named the club's player of the year for last season.
"Matty's been exceptional," continued Pulis. "He's got everything you could want. He's quick, he's got good feet and he doesn't half work hard for the team."
Shawcross has taken on added responsibility this season after Pulis made him captain, and the Stoke boss is hoping the 22-year-old will blossom in the role.
Pulis said: "I gave it to him to really take him on to the next level. Ryan's a very quiet lad and you just hope he grows with the captaincy and comes out of that shell a little bit. As he grows older and more experienced, that will become a strength of his as a leader."
Although Pulis has no doubts the pair are good enough to make the jump to international football, he knows they a battling against an established order that makes it harder for players from outside the Premier League elite to break through.
"It's always been the case," he added. "If you're with a top side and you're playing well, especially the English set-up, I think you'll always have a better chance than if you're with an unfashionable club."