Why this Stoke City Stopper should be an England Regular

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When Asmir Begovi? left Stoke for Chelsea in the recent transfer window, many wondered how they would be able to cope without him. He joined in 2010 and in the 2010/2011 season, he became Stoke’s first choice keeper. The last season he had at Stoke was his best since he joined the club but Chelsea came calling after they sold Petr ?ech to Arsenal and Begovi? left to join the Premier League champions.

So in came 22-year-old Jack Butland. Butland moved to Stoke in 2013 and was Begovi?’s understudy until he left for Chelsea. He has been patiently biding his time and now it has paid off. He is now Stoke City’s first choice goalkeeper. They clearly have a lot of faith in the youngster because his understudy is 39-year-old Shay Given. Before moving to Stoke, Butland was a product of Birmingham City’s Academy, made his reserve team debut at the tender age of 16 and was named Birmingham City’s Young Player of the Year at the end of the 2009/10 campaign.

Butland have been fantastic so far this season. He has been their man of the match in two consecutive games, the League Cup against Chelsea and the draw with Newcastle, and he is showing no signs of slowing down.

In Stoke’s League Cup match against Chelsea, he saved Eden Hazard’s penalty to ensure that Stoke won 5-4 on penalties. The victory was probably even sweeter because it was against Asmir Begovi?’s new team and the match highlighted the difference between the two goalkeepers. As if this wasn’t enough for Butland, Stoke recently played Chelsea again, this time in the Premier League, and Butland kept a clean sheet as The Potters won 1-0.

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Newcastle would definitely have beaten Stoke had it not been for Jack Butland. When Newcastle peppered Stoke’s goal with shot after shot, Jack Butland was there to save them all.

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Butland has kept five clean sheets in the league so far this season and three of them have been in his last three games for the club. Jack Butland is consistently improving and showing why Mark Hughes was right to let Asmir Begovi? move to Chelsea.

Now onto England. Butland has been involved with England in some way since under 16 level when he made his debut against Northern Ireland in 2008 and made history when he became the youngest goalkeeper to represent England at senior level. He made his debut whilst still only 19-years-old.

In 2011, Butland was called into the England U20 squad for the FIFA U20 World Cup in Colombia, where he gained even more experience, and he impressed in South America as one of the competition’s best goalkeepers.

Stuart Pearce was on the coaching staff for that tournament; Butland caught his eye and went straight into Pearce’s Under-21s as first-choice ‘keeper for the 2011/12 season.

Until the U21 European Championships in June this year, Jack Butland was their captain and a mainstay in the team. However he has now moved up to the senior England squad and this is where he hopes to stay.

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Whilst there is no question about Butland’s talent and ability, there is one obstacle and that is Joe Hart. Hart replaced David James to become England’s first choice goalkeeper in 2010 and although most positions in the England squad seem to be interchangeable, his does not. No matter how many errors Joe Hart makes, his position is rarely disputed. Butland recently said that he does not want to wait until Joe Hart retires to be England’s first choice goalkeeper and with the performances he’s being putting in recently, he shouldn’t have to.

But, according to David James, a former England goalkeeper who won 53 caps for his country, Jack Butland does not stand a chance. When speaking to Sky Sports earlier on in the month, James said that Jack Butland is “raising the bar” in terms of competition, but that England “don’t tend to give young goalkeepers a chance.” He also added “We go for the experienced goalkeeper every time.”

There was evidence of this in England’s recent friendly matches against Spain and France. Butland’s form had been fantastic going into these two friendlies but he was an used substitute in the 2-0 defeat to Spain and he came on as a substitute at half time during the 2-0 win over France.

This may seem like damning words from an experienced England international, but if Butland keeps consistently putting in man of the match performances like he is, Roy Hodgson will have to stand up and take notice.

Butland can’t get much better and he deserves to be given a decent chance to show how well he can represent England. He has repaid the faith that Mark Hughes put in him at the beginning of this season and Roy Hodgson should give him a proper opportunity to do the same for the Three Lions.

Featured Image – All Rights Reserved by Dan Westell.

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