Tuesday 25 April 2017

Etherington shortens odds on England ‘long shot’

STOKE CITY 3
Higginbotham 8, Sidibe 45, Etherington 67
BLACKBURN ROVERS 0

Jon Culley

IT IS not a subject on which Peter Coates, the chairman of Stoke City, chooses to comment, but he would have to be a man of little imagination if he did not allow his thoughts to dwell now and again upon the irony of Matthew Etherington’s contribution to his team’s advance towards Premier League stability.

Coates, the financial driving force behind the Potteries club, made his fortune in the betting industry. He is the owner of Bet365, which is said to have a worldwide customer base of more than three million. Etherington, meanwhile, attends Gamblers Anonymous sessions on two days of every week.



Yet the 28-year-old winger is playing so well this season that Coates has suggested he ought to be on England’s radar as a possible for this summer’s World Cup. Etherington regards that notion as “a bit of a long shot” but as Fabio Capello, the England coach, paid his first visit to the Britannia Stadium on Saturday, he did not waste the chance to impress.



After Danny Higginbotham’s volley had put them in front, Etherington set up Stoke’s second goal for Mamady Sidibe with the kind of dangerous, lowtrajectory cross that the best wide players usually have in their repertoire, then scored their third himself, compiling one of numerous man-ofthe- match performances so far this season.



“I’m not going to get my hopes up about England,” Etherington said. “There are four or five great players in my position – Downing, Joe Cole, Gerrard can play there. “I’m not going to get above myself. If I keep doing well for Stoke City, who knows? But I think it’s a bit of a long shot.”



Stoke City (4-4-2): Sorensen; Wilkinson, Huth, Shawcross, Higginbotham; Lawrence, Delap (Whelan, 90), Whitehead, Etherington; Fuller (Sanli, 79), Sidibe (Beattie, 81). Substitutes not used: Begovic (gk), Pugh, Diao, Collins.



Blackburn Rovers (4-1-4-1): Robinson; Chimbonda (Salgado, 65), Samba, Nelsen, Givet; Nzonzi (Reid, 73); Di Santo (Andrews, 60), Emerton, Pedersen, Olsson; Kalinic. Substitutes not used: Brown (gk) Roberts, Diouf, Hoilett.



Referee: S Bennett (Kent).



Booked: Stoke Shawcross, Fulle; Blackburn Samba, Nzonzi, Andrews.



Sent off: Blackburn Samba (59).



Man of the match: Etherington.



Attendance: 27,386.



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