Stoke's Jack Butland Opens Up About Champions League Ambitions & Becoming England's No.1
With the World Cup in Russia less than a year away and Joe Hart's position at England starting XI uncertain, plenty of candidates are vying to earn the nation's number one jersey.
Stoke City keeper Jack Butland opened up to the Mirror about his desire to become first choice for his country, and also spoke at length about his ambition to play Champions League football - even if it means potentially leaving the club.
“I’ve always said and I’ve never hid the fact that I want to play at the top, be England’s No1 and win trophies,” he said. “While I’m at Stoke, I’ll always try to do that.
“But me and the fans, they know I have targets and ambitions, and they’d be happy for me if that (playing in the Champions League) happened. It’s good that I’ve got that sort of relationship with them and the club.
“It’s testing yourself, not just against the best in this country but the best the rest of the world has to offer and the best in Europe. You don’t get to play against them very often, playing against teams that you are not aware of.
“It can only enhance you as a player, your IQ and understanding of the game against teams who play different ways, different styles and in the Champions League to get you ready for World Cups, there’s only things you can gain from that."
He also believes game time in the European competition will enhance his chances of getting the England spot but still thinks his performances at Stoke will attract Gareth Southgate: “I think performances stand for themselves and I believe I can get the No1 spot playing at Stoke. I believe that. If I didn’t, I would be silly but I believe it comes down to performances.
“It’s about doing the best job we can to make us successful. I don’t sit there and worry about it and I don’t think my chances are damaged because I play for Stoke."
Butland thinks that he will be able to persuade Southgate by some game time with England with the Friendlies prior to the World Cup.
“I believe there is still time for me to get that No1 slot. There are two more qualifiers and we have two more friendlies in November, friendlies in March and then friendlies before the tournament.
“So that is eight games or so in which to show what I can do. I’ve been in situations like this since I was 19.”
Southgate has used Hart as his No1 keeper and Butland says he disappointed for not getting the chance but understands the England manager's decision.
“It’s the manager’s decision and I can only do so much but I will respect that, support Joe or whoever it is and I will keep going until I get there.
“I’ve always learnt from Joe, no matter whether he has been going through tough times or playing really well. We get on really well, we both have the same steely determination, nothing fazes him. He doesn’t care what people say about him.”
With Hart struggling to impress at West Ham and Tom Heaton currently injured whilst playing for the Clarets, Butland will have to outperform Fraser Forster and Jordan Pickford for a starting spot in the national team.