Speculation regarding which goalkeepers Gareth Southgate should take to this summer’s World Cup in Russia is rife at the moment with usual England number one Joe Hart failing to impress on loan at West Ham United.
With just three months to go until England’s opening Group G match against Tunisia, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope, Tom Heaton and Fraser Forster all fancy themselves to unseat Hart
As a result, Stoke captain Jack Butland is facing fairly stiff competition as he seeks to stake a claim to the England number 1 shirt by the time the World Cup rolls around in the summer.
Jack Butland played in the final World Cup qualifying game against Lithuania in October and kept a clean sheet in England’s 1-0 win. However, a broken finger in November meant that he had to withdraw from the England squad for their friendlies against Germany and Brazil.
On Monday night, the 26-year-old shot stopper impressed against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side. Without him, the Citizens may well have scored a few more goals at the Bet 365 stadium.
30 minutes into the first half, Stoke defender Bruno Martins Indi nearly gifted Kevin De Bruyne a goal with a back pass which sold England’s would-be number one keeper very short indeed. However, Butland reacted fast to spare his Martins Indi’s blushes: the Bristol-born man brilliantly dashing from his goal to block De Bruyne’s shot, putting his body on the line in the process.
It was a Manuel Neuer-esque sweeper keeper moment that many top-class stoppers would be pleased with.
Keeping things respectable
Later in the game, Butland, who has six England caps to his name, saved well low down to his left after Fernandinho hit an awkward shot towards the goal.
His bravery throughout the first-half was clear, the former Birmingham player continually swept up his teammates mistakes, keeping the score at a respectable 1-0 at the interval.
Although Butland may have come out too soon for City’s second goal, it must be noted that Pep Guardiola’s side moved the ball into the box so quickly that most goalkeepers would have struggled.
Doing his chances no harm
Throughout the game, Butland showed both capability and talent against the Premier League champions-elect, doing his chances of starting in Russia no harm at all, at one point making a great save at point blank range to deny Raheem Sterling.
As Butland himself stated post-match: “They are going to win the league and they are one of the best teams we have seen in the Premier League. We kept them out more than we let them through.
“It’s not easy for us down there. We know that our goal is and what we need to do. We have to approach every game with the same intensity and I believe we will be alright.”
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