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Neville jumps to the defence of Shawcross

ENGLAND coach Gary Neville believes Ryan Shawcross should be recognised for his footballing talent and not just his physicality.

Selected by Fabio Capello in his squad for the friendly with Egypt in March 2010, Shawcross failed to get a look-in, and has not been seen in England colours since.

He was part of the group that met up yesterday afternoon, though, as Roy Hodgson's charges got ready for their World Cup qualifier with San Marino at Wembley on Friday night.

There are still those who dismiss the Stoke skipper as little more than a hard man in one of the Premier League's most physically imposing teams.

However, Neville said: "I don't go along with the way in which people look at Stoke players.

"They are physical but they also have a lot of quality. I have seen Ryan Shawcross play since he was 16. Coming through the Manchester United system, I know he has been brought up in the correct manner.

"He is a good football player and deserves respect."

Like all the other fringe players - including Liverpool's Jonjo Shelvey and Chelsea's Ryan Bertrand - Shawcross will hope England opt for an experimental side against San Marino, officially the world's joint worst team. Skipper Steven Gerrard and Liverpool team-mate Glen Johnson are suspended.