Jack Butland targets senior squad in time for 2014 World Cup

Keeper confident he can become latest Under-21 product to break into Hodgson's senior side

Netanya

It was an early night ahead of yesterday's first training session here for the England Under-21 squad, which meant missing the climax of the senior team's televised draw in Brazil. The game did not finish until just before midnight local time, and Jack Butland caught Wayne Rooney's goal just as he was heading to bed. The 80 minutes the Stoke City goalkeeper managed, however, only increased his desire to be in Brazil himself at the World Cup finals next summer.

The Under-21 squad has become an increasingly useful stepping stone on the way, with 10 of the group who represented England at the last tournament two years ago now boasting a full cap. Having Stuart Pearce working with both squads, as he did under Fabio Capello, helped the process and Butland and others must hope that promotion continues to work in the same way. Watching Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Rodwell – both still eligible for the Under-21s – come on as substitutes in Rio helped convince Butland it will.

"They got there through their performances for the their club but most importantly their performances for the Under-21s," he said. "The way Jack and Alex came on is only more motivation for us that we can get there, it's an inspiration. That's what we're all striving to achieve."

Butland, who agreed to join Stoke in January but stayed on loan at Birmingham, has already had senior recognition, having been given a first cap against Italy at Wembley last August. An ambitious as well as confident and eloquent 20-year-old, he believes that he is capable of playing plenty of Premier League football next season and ending it as one of England's top three goalkeepers.

"If I didn't think that, there would be no point," he said. "I'm not going to stand here and think three places are taken and just give up. I've got to prove that I'm good enough to go. I feel really good in this squad and I feel part of it. But this is the step to the next level and I feel very confident that if I get the opportunity to have a good tournament, and then a good season next year, then who knows? That's the target, to go to Rio."

Meanwhile there is a tournament to play, starting against Italy tomorrow. Pearce's team reached it by coming through a turbulent play-off in Serbia, where they suffered sticks and stones as well as racist name-calling during a commendable 1-0 victory. "There was all sorts [being thrown], from seats to what they were supposed to be eating," Butland recalled. "In the first half there were coins and other stuff. There were little stones, then towards the end a couple of rocks. That just gave us more drive in a difficult scenario to go on and win the game."

If not exactly the sort of character-building exercise that even "Psycho" Pearce would recommend, Butland said that it was useful in binding a close-knit squad even more firmly together. "We showed no matter what situation we are put in that we can handle it. What we were put through was an extreme test. You could feel in the dressing room that we had got through an extremely difficult scenario. When things got out of hand we handled it very well. After the game you could see that it made us all stronger and brought us all closer together."

The one negative is that as a result of altercations at the final whistle, Danny Rose and Tom Ince are suspended from the Italy game. A week after helping his former club Crystal Palace achieve promotion via the play-offs, Wilfried Zaha sat out training yesterday at the squad's base 20 miles north of Tel Aviv with an ankle injury and is by no means certain to start, although Pearce claimed: "He shouldn't be a doubt. He's obviously played a really full season. The plan was to do the warm-up and then work with the physios. We'll have another look at him and see where he is with regards to his fitness."

The only other strikers in the party are Connor Wickham and Marvin Sordell, neither of whom have been prolific this season, although in the Under-21s' remarkable run of nine straight wins, midfielders and even defenders have chipped in with goals.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea