Shawcross forgiven for tackle on Ramsey

Arsenal hold no grudges over Ramsey incident, Stoke's 22-year-old told by Walcott
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The Independent Football

Ryan Shawcross, the Stoke City defender, has been reassured by Theo Walcott that the Arsenal team hold no grudges or ill feeling after his challenge last weekend broke the leg of Aaron Ramsey.

Shawcross, 22, wept at the sight of Ramsey's broken tibia and fibula, and has apologised for the incident. Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, described the tackle as "unacceptable" after the game, but Walcott said the players have since accepted that it was a mistake.

Walcott and Shawcross met up on England duty this week and spoke about the shocking injury. Walcott said: "He's a very humble lad. He's a great defender. Obviously he knows what's happened and feels very bad. He's apologised. He's not a player to do those sort of tackles. He'll put his head down and work very hard for club and country. Any hard feelings? No, not at all."

Ramsey's surgery has gone well and doctors are confident he will play again. Wenger said: "It is not a career-threatening injury. But it is two breaks and to get back to your best you need not only to practise again but you need time to recover your coordination. He is a young boy and he will recover from this but it is a bad injury. This gives us one more reason to fight [for the title] until the end. We want to do it for him."

Shawcross, an unused substitute in England's 3-1 win over Egypt on Wednesday night, has sent text messages to Ramsey to apologise and enquire after his health. Yet the Stoke defender vowed he would not change his style of play in light of Ramsey's injury when he returns after serving his three-match ban.

"Whenever I play for Stoke I am 100 per cent committed and that will be the same as ever when I next play," Shawcross said. "Hopefully, when I am back from suspension, I can do well again. The fans and a lot of people around me have been fantastic in their support over the past few days."

The incident appears to have pulled both clubs together, in a somewhat surprising way. Stoke have promised to remain in contact with Ramsey throughout his recovery, while Tony Pulis, the Stoke manager, said Shawcross had received around 300 emails from Arsenal fans who expressed sympathy for the young defender.

"Ryan has had nigh on 300 emails from Arsenal supporters sympathising with him and his reaction coming off the pitch. I think that's absolutely fantastic when people get slaughtered at times. The attitude of the Arsenal supporters has been brilliant," Pulis said.

Pulis, whose side visit Chelsea on Sunday in an FA Cup quarter-final, denied accusations that his team go out to kick the opposition. "Ninety-nine per cent of people who have seen the incident will accept that it's an awkward challenge and not a malicious, vindictive challenge," he said. "People said we tried to outmuscle Arsenal – if you look at the three games we've played them this year we haven't had a booking. We are perceived at times to be this big, strong physical team that outmuscle teams."

Pulis added that Shawcross, who was bought for £1m from Manchester United in January 2008, was given encouragement by senior England players. He said: "Steven Gerrard, apparently, has been exceptional and has really looked after him. People like Wayne Rooney and David Beckham have been brilliant."

Last season Shawcross was accused by Wenger of an illegal challenge on Emmanuel Adebayor that led to the then Arsenal striker being out for three weeks with an ankle injury. In addition, his tackle on Francis Jeffers in October 2007 while on loan at Stoke resulted in the Sheffield Wednesday striker missing three months with ligament damage.

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