Fears were raised when the club captain was involved in an innocent collision just before half-time and required lengthy treatment to his knee.
He left the pitch gingerly and was substituted at half-time before watching the second half from the stands.
That suggested the injury, such as it was, wasn’t too serious.
And now the club’s under-23’s assistant manager Wade Elliott reports: “Ryan’s fine, that was always the plan, with the first team playing this week.
“We were being precautionary and he’ll be much better off for getting those minutes.”
Shawcross was playing for the first time since the 1-0 defeat at Fulham back on December 28.
The club stalwart suffered a calf strain late in that game and saw it out as a makeshift striker because manager Michael O’Neill had already used up his quota of three subs.
Shawcross has endured a miserable season after suffering a long-term injury in pre-season and then seeing two comebacks aborted by fitness problems.
But he has trained without mishap over the past fortnight and last night’s appearance could give O’Neill food for thought ahead of Saturday’s visit of fellow strugglers Hull City.
Last night’s Premier League Two fixture ended in a 3-2 defeat for Stoke after going 3-0 down before pulling back second-half goals from Will Forester and Cameron McJannet.
Elliott told the club’s website: “In the first half I thought we were very poor, second half I thought we were much more like ourselves and we made a game of it.
“But, we gave ourselves too much to do, especially when you’re playing against a good side.
“We didn’t speak about the disallowed goals when we went in at half time, mainly because we haven’t had chance to watch them back, and we were more concerned about the performance.
“It didn’t reflect what we’re about and what the club has represented over the years, I think the players knew themselves and what we said to them resonated because in the second half there was a big jump in the intensity and that translated into a much better performance.”