Jack Butland on verge of England debut against Italy

 

Teenage goalkeeper Jack Butland says it will be a "dream come true" if
he makes his senior England debut in this week's friendly against Italy
in Berne.

The 19-year-old Birmingham custodian could get the chance to feature on Wednesday after Joe Hart was ruled out with a back injury.

England manager Roy Hodgson opted against calling up a replacement for Hart, leaving Butland and John Ruddy as the only two remaining goalkeepers.

For a player whose only senior experience at domestic level are the 24 games he played on loan for Cheltenham in League Two last season, a full England bow would cap a remarkable rise for Butland having also played for Great Britain during the Olympics.

"It's what dreams are made of. Unfortunately it's come, or hopefully will come, due to an injury which is unfortunate for Joe but if I get the chance it will be a dream come true," Butland said at today's press conference.

"It's something I can't stop thinking about and I'd love the chance to be able to perform on that stage on Wednesday night.

"I think it's very important, I'm not going to try and put too much pressure on myself or expect anything because there's not a lot of goalkeepers who get the chance at such a young age so I'm very privileged to be in this position.

"I'm going to take everything in my stride. If it doesn't happen on Wednesday I'm going to work harder to make it happen on a different occasion."

Butland, who was part of England's Euro 2012 Squad in Poland and Ukraine, also believes the experience of playing for Team GB at the Olympics will prove invaluable as he continues his development.

He said: "It was fantastic for everyone involved. I feel very proud and privileged that I was given a chance to be able to perform and be a part of something bigger than just football.

"You were given the chance to mix with other athletes, it was a very good experience to see how all the other sports do it and just get a feel for the olympics. It's something I won't forget."

He added: "The Euros were fantastic and it was a great experience to see and train with top players and it was a big eye-opener for me and showed me where I want to be for long periods of my career."

Meanwhile, Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley is looking to put last season's injury woes behind him and hit the ground running as he too looks to make his England debut on Wednesday.

"It was a bit of frustrating season for me," he said. "It always is for a footballer to be injured and not to be able to do what you do. But I'm not thinking about that now. I'm getting my head down and hoping to play as much football as possible, whether that be for England or Manchester United."

Cleverley comes into the game on the back of some impressive displays for Team GB at the Olympics, and he added: "I've got fitness from it, I played five 90-minute games which is good because I didn't manage to get that much match fitness towards the end of last season.

"It's also helped me experience what's involved in tournament football - things like penalty shoot-outs. I've not experienced before so all that's good for me in the future."

"I enjoyed every minute of it. It was something a bit different from your normal league games but on a personal level it was good for me.

"Including friendlies I managed to play six games and feel confident and fit from it.

"It's a shame we didn't get a medal but I enjoyed the all-round experience."

PA

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