Return to England fold such relief for former Leeds United loanee Jack Butland

Goalkeeper Jack Butland admits he is desperate to make up for lost time after returning to the England fold.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 7th June 2017, 10:53 am
Updated Wednesday, 7th June 2017, 10:56 am
Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland. Picture: David Davies/PA
Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland. Picture: David Davies/PA

The 24-year-old Stoke City stopper had been sidelined for over a year before his comeback from a broken ankle at the end of last season.

He played in Stoke’s final five Premier League games after initially being injured playing for England in Germany in March 2016 and missing last year’s European Championship.

Butland was called up for the first time since his injury for Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Scotland in Glasgow and next week’s friendly in France after several set-backs and wants to make his mark again.

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RIVAL: England goalkeeper Joe Hart. Picture: PA.

“It’s been a long time and I’ve got the three lions back on my chest – I’m wearing that shirt again, which always has been an honour,” said Butland, who has four caps.

“For me it was the drive and belief to get back. I wanted to make up for all the lost time, missing the Euros, missing so many Premier League games, getting back playing with friends and team-mates and making my family proud of me again.

“It’s not nice not to be able to do something you love for a long time.

“It can be a lonely place when you’re injured.

England manager Gareth Southgate, above right. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA

“What I missed was just being out there with my team-mates and experiencing the highs and the lows.

“It’s a proud moment for me and my family.

“To be back here after some difficult times is really good and I’m just thoroughly enjoying being back and looking forward to the week ahead.”

Former Leeds and Barnsley loanee Butland was also involved as the squad and backroom staff spent the weekend at the Royal Marines’ Commando Training Centre in Devon.

RIVAL: England goalkeeper Joe Hart. Picture: PA.

It was a surprise trip – organised by boss Gareth Southgate – for the team but Butland believes it will have a positive impact.

He said: “It was tough but it was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.

“We got to experience their way of life, the way they do things, their values and just how tight-knit they are as a family.

“I think as a squad and players we all benefited from that.

England manager Gareth Southgate, above right. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA

“There was a lot to learn – stuff that we’re keen to take forward in what we’re trying to achieve.

“We always want to achieve as well as we can do but if you keep preparing the same, you’ll get the same results.

“I think that’s something that Gareth lives by and it’s important we stretch ourselves.

“The Marines talk about something called disconnected expectations – which is the shock factor.

“It’s being taken out of your comfort zone and being able to perform as well as you can do when you’re at your most fatigued.

“That was something that was big for us and being able to pull together.”

Butland believes his rivalry with fellow goalkeeper Joe Hart will only be positive for both players.

He said: “I’ve known Joe for a long time – all the way from when I was in the youth team at Birmingham and he was on loan there from Man City – and we’ve always had a healthy relationship.

“I think that bodes really well when we come into squads.

“I’m keen to do as well as I can and in turn that pushes him and likewise pushes me back.

“It’s really healthy and positive and it gets the best out of each other.”

Striker Jermain Defoe, meanwhile, is looking forward to playing his part in the next chapter of Bournemouth’s “unique story” when he returns from his summer break.

The 34-year-old is set to leave Sunderland after the Black Cats were relegated from the Premier League.

Defoe – who will be part of England’s attack against Scotland – had a spell at Bournemouth earlier in his career, and is reported to have agreed a three-year deal at the Vitality Stadium.

“What I want to do is get my head down and focus on England, the two games, and then after that everyone will know,” said Defoe. “It’s documented about the Bournemouth thing.

“It’s a special place, with a top manager and a team that’s done so well from where they came from.”