Many of us are aware that some Premier League clubs have gems of goalkeepers. But it is not often you see English keepers at the very highest level. Goalkeepers like Jack Butland, Tom Heaton, Jordan Pickford, Fraser Forster and Ben Foster, however, have raised expectations with some great individual performances.
Joe Hart is managing to play top level football in Italy. After Manchester City’s change of manager, he fell out of favour with Pep Guardiola. This led to him being loaned out to Italian side, Torino. Still playing at a high level, Hart is still considered the England number one.
Most recently, Jack Butland has just come back from a lengthy injury. He arrived at Stoke City in 2013 before being instantly loaned out to Birmingham City and Barnsley. The year after, Butland was loaned out to Leeds United and then Derby County. This was the plan for Stoke, making sure he got some game time before fighting for the club’s number one spot.
Butland had a stroke of luck with Chelsea coming in for Stoke’s number one, Asmir Begovic. The 2015-16 season was the Englishman’s time to shine as the sale of Begovic had just been completed. Butland impressed in numerous games pulling off some great saves during crucial moments. He was the hero in the League Cup fourth round, saving Eden Hazard’s penalty in a shootout. That sent Stoke through to the next round.
Butland was called up to the England squad in March 2016 against Germany due to his consistent performances. However, not long into the first half, he suffered an injury. It turned out the injury was a fractured ankle. This ruled him out for the remainder of the season. Despite this bad news, he was still voted as Stoke City’s “Player Of The Year”.
The young keeper, born in Bristol, was keen to come back from a troublesome period. The 2016-17 pre-season was the expected time to return but instead, he had to undergo surgery. This meant that a set back stalled his return in September. He was then scheduled to come back during December, but Butland suffered yet again.
During the time Butland was injured, Stoke had to find a replacement keeper. They managed to find third choice Derby County keeper, Lee Grant. He was instantly chosen as Butland’s replacement and the Potters number one. Many were sceptical about the choice, but Grant surprised fans and pundits with some great performances.
Grant was earning himself a great reputation among the Stoke fans as a likeable character. However, Butland had made a full recovery towards the end of April, and Mark Hughes put him straight into the starting XI against Swansea City. This led some Stoke fans to question this decision as they felt Grant deserved to be playing right through the season.
It is great Butland is back after his lengthy injury, but Grant had been in excellent form. Saying that though, Butland has returned and impressed instantly. Although his introduction back into the side was a 2-0 loss to Swansea, his home return against West Ham was impressive. Even though the game ended 0-0, the England international made numerous important saves.
He impressed with a “Man of The Match” performance despite the game being a bore draw. He showed what quality he still has despite being out for 13 months. There are a couple of games left in the season, meaning there is still time for more impressive displays by the quality keeper. With the tough times he has faced, we are glad to have Jack Butland back.