England goalkeeper Jack Butland admits he cannot stand it when fellow professionals fake injuries.
Former Leeds United and Barnsley loan star Butland was expected to be out for up to six weeks when he suffered a fracture to his right index finger in training for Stoke a fortnight ago.
But the 22-year-old strapped up the finger and performed superbly in the 1-1 draw at Norwich, and played again for the Potters in their narrow defeat to West Brom at the weekend.
Having not taken any painkillers for the problem, Butland was close to agony on a few occasions in the last two games.
The idea of other players rolling around on the floor pretending to be injured therefore fills him with anger.
“It has always wound me up,” Butland said.
“I played rugby until I was 14 and it is just not something you did. If you were really hurt, you stayed down. It is one of my pet hates. I want to go and pick people up. It is a shame you cannot slap people round the face any more – you get sent off.”
The players spared the goalkeeper no mercy in training yesterday, firing balls at him during a session at St George’s Park.
He insists he will be okay to play for England in the upcoming qualifiers against San Marino and Switzerland if for any reason Joe Hart is ruled out.
“It’s going to be painful but it’s not one I can’t continue to play with,” Butland said.
“It’s something that’s manageable. I’ve been able to perform and train fine.
“I have got me a special glove that protects the finger, and it’s not in my mind at all. It’s something I’m able to ignore and get on with playing.”
Butland was “delighted” to hear he would get a run as Stoke’s No 1 following the sale of Asmir Begovic to Chelsea.
And he is now hoping to nail down a place in Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2016 squad over the coming months.
“Hopefully I can be in the squad next summer,” said Butland, whose sole cap came three years ago.
“That is my target, being away with England is the pinnacle for me and that is where I want to be.”
One player certain to start against San Marino is Wayne Rooney.
Sir Geoff Hurst believes Rooney is already a “true great” but claims England’s current record goalscorer Sir Bobby Charlton is on another level.
Rooney is presently on 48 international goals, one shy of Charlton’s haul, and is expected to pass the 1966 World Cup winner over the course of England’s next two Euro 2016 qualification fixtures, at San Marino on Saturday and at home to Switzerland on Tuesday.
Hurst was a significant figure, alongside Charlton, in England’s memorable team in 1966 and scored the hat-trick that inspired a 4-2 victory over West Germany in the tournament’s final.
He is a passionate admirer of Rooney, who remains a divisive figure despite being England captain and winner of five Premier League titles and a Champions League medal. Hurst considers him unfortunate to be the subject of such intense criticism and scrutiny, even if he believes Charlton’s remains superior.
“Rooney’s a true great,” said Hurst, who was speaking at the launch of the Kickstarter campaign for Bo66y The Movie, a documentary about England great Bobby Moore.
“Figure-wise, of course, if he goes above (Charlton’s 49 goals) it’s a great achievement, no question at all. The only thing I would say is if you’re making comparisons, Wayne is a front player, whereas Bobby Charlton scored 49 goals as a midfield player. It just shows you the astonishing ability of Sir Robert Charlton.
“There is a little way to go, when you make comparisons as players. It’s not only their ability, it’s what they achieved in the game, and of course Bobby Charlton was the member of a World-Cup winning team, which Wayne’s not yet. There’s that differential there, which I would always argue.”