Fulham run fires Shawcross's European dream

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The Independent Football

Ryan Shawcross admits Fulham's success on the continent this season has got him dreaming of a push for Europe with Stoke next year.

The Potters travel to Craven Cottage tonight where last week Roy Hodgson's side booked their place in the Europa League final with victory over Hamburg.

Both Stoke and Fulham – currently 13th and 11th respectively – are looking to claim a top-half finish in the Premier League. The London club made it into Europe by claiming seventh spot last season and Shawcross feels it would be "fantastic" if the Potters could follow their lead in the next campaign.

"Next season, our first aim will be to reach a points tally where we can't be relegated, and then we will push on from there," Shawcross told The Sentinel. "I would love to play in Europe – ask any of the Stoke lads and they would say the same. It is the ultimate."

Shawcross was named Stoke's young player of the season on Sunday, while midfielder Matthew Etherington picked up three awards for overall player of the year.

Fabio Capello called Shawcross up to the England squad in February and the defender believes Etherington may have also been given the nod had he not sustained an injury in a match against Manchester City which was being watched by the national coach.

Club captain Abdoulaye Faye remains an injury doubt to face Fulham due to a thigh strain, while Asmir Begovic will continue to deputise in goal for Thomas Sorenson.

Striker Dave Kitson was left out of the squad for Saturday's goalless draw with Everton after he reacted to being substituted in the 7-0 defeat at Chelsea by walking down the tunnel. Kitson, in an interview with The Sunday Times, hit back at manager Tony Pulis's comments that he was "petulant" and his future at the club is uncertain.