Name: Ryan Shawcross
Their captain. Their leader. Their key man. The return of centre-half Ryan Shawcross will play a massive role in Stoke City’s fortunes between now and the end of the 2015-16 campaign.
The Potters, who currently sit tenth in the standings respectively following their impressive 3-1 victory at newly promoted AFC Bournemouth last weekend, dearly missed their commanding defender during the early stages of the season due to his back injury.
However; once the 28-year-old was fully fit and match sharp, his side’s resoluteness, solidarity and most importantly, their results, significantly improved under his supervision, with Stoke keeping seven clean sheets in the 13 league games he has featured in so far this term.
Shawcross, who arrived permanently at the Britannia Stadium back in January 2008 following a then club-record £2m deal Manchester United, has an impressive defensive record at the club and instantly improves Mark Hughes’ men’s performances when he plays.
The defender is considered a ‘risk’ to include in next weekend’s squad to face rock-bottom in the Premier League, but the sooner Shawcross steps onto that pitch once more following his latest back muscle injury, the sooner Stoke are likely to begin climbing up the table during their final dozen fixtures.