Stoke have united in their support of Ryan Shawcross after the horror tackle which broke the leg of Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey last night.
Shawcross was visibly distressed and left the field in tears after being sent off for a reckless challenge on Ramsey in the second half of Stoke’s 3-1 Barclays Premier League defeat at the Britannia Stadium.
Ramsey was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery in scenes reminiscent of those when Gunners team-mate Eduardo suffered a similarly horrific injury two years ago.
Arsenal today confirmed Ramsey had suffered fractures to the tibia and fibula of his right leg and would miss the rest of the season at least.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger vented his fury at Shawcross after the game but opposite number Tony Pulis, while also condemning the tackle, defended Shawcross’ character.
And the 22-year-old, who in a surprising twist was later named in the England squad for the first time, has also received the backing of his team-mates.
Midfielder Danny Pugh said: “I have obviously seen it and I think it was a 50-50 tackle.
“Ryan has not gone in to hurt him. He is not a malicious kind of lad and does not go out to hurt anyone.
“I think Ryan has genuinely gone for the ball.
“It is just unfortunate that the lad has been hurt so badly.”
Wales international Ramsey, 19, was expected to be transferred to a hospital in London today.
An Arsenal statement read: “The operation successfully reduced the fractures and whilst it is too soon to state an exact timescale for recovery, Aaron will certainly miss the remainder of this season.”
Wenger’s pointed post-match remarks threatened to spark a row with Stoke and prompted the Potteries club to issue a statement late last night re-emphasising Pulis’ earlier comments.
“Ryan Shawcross has no bad blood in him whatsoever,” said Pulis.
“There is no way in a million years he would ever go out and try and hurt someone.”
Shawcross was also quoted saying there was “absolutely no malice in the challenge” and he “would never, ever go out to hurt a fellow professional”.
Wenger had described the tackle as “horrendous” and the automatic three-match ban Shawcross will receive for the red card as “just ridiculous”.
Arsenal showed great resolve after the Ramsey incident – which occurred with the score 1-1 after 65 minutes – to go on to win the game.
Stoke had made the better start to open the scoring early on when a trademark Rory Delap throw-in was glanced onwards by Shawcross and turned in at the far post by Pugh.
Nicklas Bendtner levelled with a firm header before the interval and Cesc Fabregas put the Gunners ahead with a penalty in the last of the regular 90 minutes after Pugh handled.
Thomas Vermaelen wrapped up the win as the game went into seven minutes of injury time by tapping in after Thomas Sorensen parried a Tomas Rosicky shot and Fabregas squared.
“I’m obviously delighted with the goal early on but devastated with the final result,” said Pugh, who had been making his first start of the season.
“The goal was a simple tap-in for me. Rory did a good throw and then it came off Ryan – a little flick and it was nice and simple for me.
“But from my point of view I don’t think it was a penalty.
“I had my hands by my side and the ball hit my hand – I didn’t make any movement towards the ball.
“To concede a penalty in the 90th minute was hard for us all.”
Stoke had beaten Arsenal on their two previous visits to the Britannia Stadium - in the Premier League last season and in the FA Cup in January.
Pugh felt the Potters were unfortunate not to have made it a hat-trick.
“They are a class side but we have proved we can compete with the best of them this season,” said the 27-year-old former Manchester United and Leeds player.
“I think we did that again and are disappointed not to come away with anything.”