This past summer, Stoke City parted ways with long-time manager Tony Pulis who brought them to the Premier League and has kept them there for five seasons. The Welshman's tactics which revolves around direct football and physicality has drawn criticism, and the club opted to go with a manager that will play attractive, dynamic, attacking football. Enter fellow Welshman, Mark Hughes who has had stints with Wales national team, Blackburn Rovers, Fulham, Manchester City, and QPR. It seems to be an inspired hire, as Stoke are on course to achieve their highest ever finish in the Premier League, sitting at 10th with 43 points and with four games to go.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the English names hoping to represent The Potters in this year's World Cup for England.
Peter Crouch, 33, forward
The 33-year old striker has scored eight goals and provides 5 assists in the league this season. That number is perhaps somewhat underwhelming, but Crouch offer something that most England striker (with the exception of Andy Carroll) doesn't posses which is aerial prowess and the ability to hold up the ball. He also has a penchant for scoring spectacular goals.
On the plane or on the beach? Crouch last played for England back in 2010. At this rate, it would be quite a shock to see him receiving a call-up from Roy Hodgson, especially with Andy Carroll (a somewhat younger and stronger version of Crouch) available.
Ryan Shawcross, 26, defender
Shawcross has been ever present for Stoke in this campaign, making 34 appearances and scoring once. Shawcross average nearly nine clearances, one tackle, and one interception per game. However he has committed the highest number of defensive error compared to Stoke's other defenders with five errors (according to Squawka.com), which is worrying sign in a high pressure World Cup match.
On the plane or on the beach? At the moment it doesn't look likely that Shawcross would get the chance to add to his single England cap. With Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka locked in as England's first choice centre-back pairing, and the likes of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, and Steven Caulker around, he will be likely to spend this summer soaking up the sun.
Jack Butland, 21, goalkeeper
Butland rose has been very fast that its easy to forget that he is only 21 years of age. He made his England debut when he was only 19 (and this was after he was named to England's Euro 2012 squad). However, he found himself as third choice goalkeeper for Stoke and has two separate spells on loan with Championship sides Barnsley and Leeds United. In 25 appearances with both sides, he has four clean sheets. Averaging 2.5 saves per game (via Squawka.com). Perhanps next season (assuming Asmir Begovic moves on) Butland will get regular games under his belt in the Premier League.
On the plane or on the beach? Butland's inclusion in England's Euro 2012 squad was due to injury sustained by John Ruddy. With Ruddy, Fraser Forster, and Ben Foster all vying for two spots as Joe Hart's backup, its unlikely Butland will be flying to Brazil (unless injury strikes his competitors).
Matthew Etherington, 32, midfielder
Etherington averages more than 30 appearances in a season for Stoke in the league under Tony Pulis. However this season, he has only made 9 appearances with no goal or assist to his name. With mark Hughes preferring other players in Etherington's place, the winger will likely leave The Britannia this summer.
On the plane or on the beach? Easy, the beach. With an eye towards a new club.
Andy Wilkinson, 29, defender
Another player who has saw limited time under Mark Hughes. Wilkinson is able to play both fullbacks position, but has been restricted to 5 appearances in the league, with Hughes preferring US international Geoff Cameron in his spot. Unlike Etherington, Wilkinson has been offered a new contract and is set to stay with the only club he has ever known in his career.
On the plane or on the beach? Same with Etherington, Wilkinson will be lounging on the beach.
What do you think Potters fans? Who's your pick to represent Stoke City in the World Cup this summer? Sound off in the comments below!
Stats courtesy of whoscored.com (unless noted)