Shawcross refuses to blame young goalkeeper for Stoke's fragility

The Potters have always prided themselves on their defensive solidarity, but an injury to Jack Butland has disrupted their European hopes.

Following on from Stoke City's 4-1 defeat at Anfield on Sunday, Potters captain Ryan Shawcross has refused to blame the absence of first-choice goalkeeper Jack Butland for their frailties.

Danish youngster Jakob Haugaard deputised for the crocked England international, and has conceded six goals in his last two appearances, but Shawcross backed the Dane, saying he is a top quality keeper, as reported by The Daily Mail.

"Jak's put in some good performances," Shawcross said. "The last six goals I don't think he's got anywhere near because they've all been good finishes. We've got a top-class keeper and I'm sure he'll continue to do well."

Shawcross, 28, believes there have been other reasons for Stoke's lack of solidarity over the past two weeks:

"Lack of concentration, lads not switching on. It's just simple things. You have a man to mark and you have to stick with them. Things happen in games but these are things you can usually stop. We're usually okay at it so hopefully we can improve for next week."

The Potters' defensive fragility will be a concern for manager Mark Hughes, as they attempt to cap off an impressive season with Europa League qualification.

They now sit five points behind sixth-placed West Ham United, and it would now take a monumental effort for Stoke to claw back that deficit.

It has been a stop start season for Shawcross, who has only just returned after a month on the sidelines with a back injury.

The Stoke skipper has managed just 18 appearances all season, and he spoke of his frustration, saying, "Personally it's been a frustrating season. I can't stay fit for too long. It's nice to get back and hopefully I can stay back for a while."

The Potters face Tottenham Hotspur next weekend at the Britannia and will be hoping they can derail the visitors' title challenge.





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