Sheffield Wednesday: This is why an England international will watch from the bench at Hillsborough this evening

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Only a few months ago, Jack Butland sat on a substitutes bench belonging to World Cup semi-finalists. Tonight, he’ll watch on at Hillsborough as Stoke City battle to continue their resurgence from the Championship relegation spots.

The goalkeeper, who was only 19 when he was included in the England squad for Euro 2012, was once widely touted as a future international great. Having come through the ranks at Birmingham City, he has featured in 18 subsequent England squads and has been the subject of transfer gossip ever since Stoke’s relegation in 2018.

While the wheels haven’t exactly come off the 26-year-old’s career just yet, it’s certainly in need of an MOT. After a miserable start to the season, Butland has been thrown in and out of the Potters’ starting line-up, with Adam Federici taking the gloves for Nathan Jones’ side in their last three matches.

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But where has it gone wrong for the nine-cap shot-stopper? Let’s take a look..

A turbulent summer

Butland was at the centre of intense transfer speculation throughout the summer, with a host of Premier League clubs showing an interest in him. Much was made of Stoke’s Championship status potentially costing him a place in Gareth Southgate’s squad for next summer’s European Championships.

Stoke reportedly wanted £30m, other options were available, and he stayed put as Aston Villa and Bournemouth shopped elsewhere.

The transfer window slammed shut and Butland was linked with a move abroad, but nothing concrete arrived. His fluttering eyelids did little to further his reputation with an already restless Stoke fan base.

Jack Butland watches a game from the sidelines alongside England teammate Eric Dier.Jack Butland watches a game from the sidelines alongside England teammate Eric Dier.
Jack Butland watches a game from the sidelines alongside England teammate Eric Dier.

What happened next?

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Best placed to answer that question is Stoke Sentinel writer Shane Ireland, who offered an update last week and said: “Butland began the campaign as the Potters’ number-one ‘keeper and started the first four matches in the Championship.

“He looked shaky – conceding 10 goals – and after making two glaring errors in the 3-1 defeat at Preston, was dropped for the next match against Leeds United.

“The errors in the loss at Deepdale compounded a string of gaffes that were put down to the transfer speculation Nathan Jones.

“Having been left out of the firing line for the defeat to Leeds, Butland then played in the Carabao Cup win at Elland Road a few days later but was dropped again for Stoke’s loss to Birmingham City with Adam Federici trusted in goal.

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“Butland played three times in September, the defeats to Bristol City and Nottingham Forest either side of the draw against Brentford, and gifted Forest a goal in the 3-2 defeat.

“He's yet to play this month with Federici, who signed from Bournemouth last year, returning for the defeat to Huddersfield and then helping the Potters to a brilliant victory against Swansea before the international break.”

How’s Federici doing?

Having been down and out after the defeat to fellow strugglers Huddersfield, Stoke are up and at ‘em after very impressive wins over high-flying Swansea and Fulham. Federici made a handful of decent saves on his way to a clean sheet on Saturday and looks set to continue with the gloves this evening.

The Australian will be on far lower wages at Stoke and has experience of being a number one, having made over 200 appearances at Reading.

So what’s next for Butland?

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A move, most likely. Whether or not he regains his place in the side, it’s widely recognised that Butland needs a fresh challenge.

Speaking after he dropped Butland, Stoke boss Jones said: “No-one means to make errors or wants to make errors, and when they do it hurts them.

“The trouble is, Jack’s made a few and when it’s a goalkeeper, and it’s Jack Butland, and it’s Stoke City and we are in the predicament we are in, it’s a massive media storm, so it’s very difficult.”