Shawcross: we must boost defence

It is not like Stoke City to bemoan their defensive frailties as they have been brilliantly parsimonious at the back over the last two seasons but their centre-half Ryan Shawcross said yesterday he is not content with the way the back line is playing.

The Potters, who host Fulham in the third round of the Carling Cup tonight, have made a mixed start to the 2010-11 campaign and are so far yet to keep a clean sheet.

"I'm never happy – I want to be playing better every week," Shawcross said. "At the moment, it is just about getting consistent and, hopefully, we can get a few more clean sheets. You could say we're not performing very well because we haven't got a clean sheet yet. I want to get back in the England squad and I think everyone knows it," Shawcross said. "But I've got to show on the pitch that I'm good enough, so I need to start doing that."

Mark Hughes is happy not to rotate his Fulham team for the match. "We are very early in the season and don't need to make many changes," he said. "From a new manager's point of view, I want to see the core elements of my team play as much as possible. That might be different for managers who know their teams inside out.

"But for me it helps seeing them play as many times as I can. Physically, we recover as well as anybody and we never compromise by playing anybody not fully recovered."

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