Pulis backs Shawcross to handle hostility

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Stoke manager Tony Pulis is convinced captain Ryan Shawcross has broad enough shoulders to cope with the flak he is likely to face at Arsenal on Saturday.

Shawcross can expect a hostile reception from those Gunners fans unwilling to forgive him for a challenge on Aaron Ramsey during a Premier League game at the Britannia Stadium in February that left the young midfielder with a broken leg.

For the first time since the incident that infuriated Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who described the tackle as "horrendous", Shawcross and Stoke take on the Frenchman's side.

Although Ramsey has recovered, the 19-year-old will not be involved as he is currently on loan with npower Championship side Nottingham Forest as he builds up his fitness.

But with the game at the Emirates Stadium, Shawcross is unlikely to be allowed to forget and faces a tough afternoon.

Pulis has laughed off suggestions of a personal bodyguard for his defender, but he said: "People have to take flak at times, and if Ryan does, then so be it."

He added: "It's part of the world we live in. We all take stick, and we all have to be broad-shouldered to do that in this game. If you're not then you shouldn't be in it.

"We'll see what happens, but I don't give a damn what people think of Ryan outside this club."

Pulis has again launched a vigorous defence of the 23-year-old defender, as he did originally after the incident.

"He's a great lad, an honest lad, a competitive defender who has done fantastically well for us," added Pulis.

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