Shawcross ready for Wenger
Stoke City defender Ryan Shawcross hopes to be fit in time to face Arsenal to prove to Arsene Wenger he is not a dirty player.
By Danny Wright
Last Updated: 02/12/09 7:01pm
Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross says he wants to be fit in time to face Arsenal to show Gunners boss Arsene Wenger he is not a dirty player.
Wenger said that Shawcross and team-mate Rory Delap tried to deliberately hurt his players in a 2-1 defeat to the Potters at the Britannia Stadium last season.
The 22-year-old shrugged off Wenger's remarks though, and insisted he would never intentionally injure another payer.
Tony Pulis' side travel to the Emirates looking to go three matches unbeaten, but they could be without Shawcross who is struggling with a groin injury.
"It's a long time ago now, and he obviously had his thoughts on the game, but I think it was just because he lost that day," Shawcross told The Sentinel.
"He's allowed his opinions, but I've never considered myself to be dirty. I've always considered myself to be a clean tackler.
"Everyone mis-times tackles, but you never go into a game thinking about injuring somebody."
Shawcross limped out on the 0-0 draw with Blackburn after 51 minutes to be replaced by Abdoulaye Faye, and he now faces tough competition to regain his place in the side.
The arrival of Robert Huth in the summer put pressure on the solid pairing of Shawcross and Faye that kept Stoke in the Premier League last season, and the defender is aware that returning to the XI will be no easy rise.
"It is though competition there now," he admitted. "Robert did well throughout the game on Saturday, while Abby came on and was back to his normal self straight away."
And despite the incentive to get one over on Wenger's men, the former Manchester United man says he will not take any unnecessary risks just to return to the side.
"I've had enough experience with injuries to know when I can and cannot play," he said.
"We've also got good medical staff and I always have a chat with the manager as well.
"It's always up to me whether I play with an injury or not, but you don't want to make the injury worse and so you'll always consult those who know better first.
"I'm hoping I'll be okay for the next game at Arsenal, but we'll have to see, he added.
Stoke have kept an impressive six clean sheets this season and will be looking for their third consecutive shut-out when they face Arsenal.
Shawcross said he "wasn't surprised" by the fact that his side have kept one more clean sheet than champions Manchester United, who have five.
"We work on our defence a lot and the gaffer is always drumming it into us that we must defend well," he explained.
"It's a big positive for us, especially as we know we've got the forwards to get us the goals at the other end."