Players to watch 2017/18 – Jack Butland’s return


It was all going well for Jack Butland back in early 2016. So well in fact he started England’s friendly against Germany in March of last year. Great performances for his club side Stoke after coming up through the ranks of English football. However, he suffered a terrible injury in the friendly game against Germany which has meant he did not play any football in a year. He returned at the end of last season and is set to be a vital part of Stoke’s season.

Butland has had a great reputation for a while. In January 2013 he signed for Stoke from Birmingham City, but returned to the midland’s club for the rest of the season. Loan spells followed with Barnsley Leeds and Derby and then he was kept at ‘the Potters’ to be deputy to Asmir Begovic. When the Bosnian shot stopper left Stoke at the start of the 2015/16 season Butland was handed the number one shirt by manager Mark Hughes. I was finally the Englishman’s chance to perform at the top level.

It was a chance he well and truly took. He played 35 games for his club side after claiming the first choice goalkeeper spot. His performances stood out and for that he was awarded Stoke’s player of the season award for the season. His saves and distribution of the ball brought a new dimension to football at the Britannia Stadium. He was quickly developing a reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in the league. The injury could not have come at a worse time for the player.

Now he’s back he will be straight back into the Stoke side. A side that will be hoping he can play the majority of their games this season. Stoke are a side looking to improve their performances every season and having Butland between the sticks will certainly help them. Mark Hughes is experienced and over this season Butland will improve further and become a vital member of the starting 11. His size helps and it does not hinder his agility. He is good with his feet and is willing to come out when he needs to. His bravery and shot stopping ability really stand out.

This season will also see him attempt to oust long term but under fire England number one Joe Hart. Hart has been England’s number one for some time. However, he has slipped in recent years and finds himself with harder competition than he has ever faced. The unfortunate aspect of Butland being out for all that time is now he himself has competition. England usually include three goalkeepers in their squad. Assuming that Hart will at least be in the squad means that Butland, Jordan Pickford or Tom Heaton would miss out. Pickfore and Heaton both had brilliant season’s last year. Heaton now finds himself as Burnley captain and Pickford has got a big move to Everton. Butland will certainly need to hit the ground running if he wants to claim the number one spot in the England set up.

This season will be a test for Butland. He has been out for a long time and their are certain expectations on him. He will perform superbly though. His raw ability that he showed before the injury and the form he was able to produce when returning at the end of last season show just how good he is. Stoke will be looking for a top half finish this season and they will be disappointed if they do not achieve it. Butland’s return is key as he can help Stoke claim points. Butland will be vital this year and expect to see him step up to the plater and deliver week in week out.

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