Fabio Capello is purportedly building for the future as he doggedly clings on to his job but his reluctance to brave the bitter chill of the Potteries is denying him one of the country's most impressive young defenders.
Ryan Shawcross continues to enhance his burgeoning reputation at the Britannia Stadium but Capello and his team of minions continue to snub the Stoke defender. Shawcross was again left frustrated last week as Capello experimented for the disastrous friendly against France by selecting the likes of Chris Smalling and Joleon Lescott, who have barely kicked a ball for their clubs this season, ahead of him.
The 23-year-old produced another dominant, no-frills display to help Stoke extend their remarkable hoodoo over West Bromwich Albion, but it is doubtful that any of Capello's staff were at The Hawthorns on Saturday to see it.
Matthew Etherington fears his team-mate could be the victim of Premier League snobbery, saying: "Ryan is different class. You can tell in training he is definitely one for the future. In a couple of years he will be playing for a top-four club.
"You will have to ask Fabio Capello why he doesn't get picked – maybe because he plays for Stoke City, I don't know. It could be that, because some of the players who were called up in his position you can raise an eyebrow at. But it is down to one person and one person only. He definitely deserves his chance without a doubt."
Shawcross was masterful in defence to ensure Albion have now won only once in 28 meetings with their Staffordshire opponents.
The hosts were left to rue the influence of Chris Foy, the referee, who awarded the visitors two second-half penalties. Scott Carson, the Albion goalkeeper, upended Kenwyne Jones for the first, which Etherington converted from the spot.
Jon Walters, a substitute, added another penalty with five minutes left after Simon Cox's rash challenge on Dean Whitehead and then rammed in a late third goal to kill the game.
Scorers: Stoke City Etherington 55 (pen), Walters 85 (pen), 90
Substitutes: West Bromwich Albion Cox (Morrison, 56), Tchoyi (Barnes, 66), Dorrans (Mulumbu, 80). Unused Myhill (gk), Shorey, Reid, Fortune. Stoke Tuncay (Pennant, 11), Walters (Etherington, 79), Wilson (Fuller, 83). Unused Sorensen (gk), Higginbotham, Whelan, Gudjohnsen.
Man of the match Shawcross. Match rating 5/10.
Possession West Bromwich 63% Stoke 37%.
Shots on target West Bromwich 8 Stoke 4.
Referee C Foy (Merseyside). Att 24,164.Reuse content