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Pulis hails goal hero Shawcross

Stoke City celebrations
Shawcross is mobbed by Rory Delap after his winner against Middlesbrough

Stoke City manager Tony Pulis has praised defender Ryan Shawcross after his goal helped the Potters secure a vital victory against Middlesbrough.

Shawcross headed an 84th-minute winner to lift the Potters out of the Premier League's relegation zone.

Pulis told BBC Radio Stoke: "I was more pleased with his performance defensively, because if you keep clean sheets you win more games.

"But if he pops up with more winning goals like that, it's a nice bonus."

The defender's winning goal against Middlesbrough was his third goal in his last four matches.

Pulis added: "He's got a long way to go yet and a lot of learning ahead, but he's a level-headed kid. One day he'll be a top player."

The 21-year-old scored eight times in the Potters promotion season, but had failed to find the net in the Premier League until the 2-2 draw at Aston Villa on 1 March.

Shawcross told BBC Radio Stoke: "I always thought that one goal would win the game, and luckily for me, I got it.

"I changed my run-up to the throw for the first time and I'm glad it worked.

"If I get one, I get a couple, so hopefully I can continue with the rich vein of form I'm in with goals."

The next three games for Stoke come against teams in the bottom six of the Premier League - they travel to West Bromwich Albion (4 April) before home games against Newcastle (11 April) and Blackburn (18 April).

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