Jack Butland wants to be involved in European Under-21 Championships with England

Goalkeeper could be used among senior squad

Goalkeeper Jack Butland would rather play in the European Under-21 Championship this summer than take part in England's friendly programme.

The 20-year-old, who signed for Stoke in January and will begin working with them after finishing the season with Birmingham, has proved in the past he is focused on developing his game ahead of burnishing his status as a high-profile bench-warmer.

He rejected the chance to move to Chelsea and also declined talks with Manchester City as he sought a top-flight club that could offer him first-team football - and now he has applied the same logic to his international career.

While the Football Association's 150th anniversary matches against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil will undoubtedly be big occasions, the chance to be first-choice in tournament conditions in Isreal is a bigger lure to Butland.

"I want to go with the Under-21s," he told The Times.

"For me, I think it would be a lot more beneficial to my development. Much as I'd love to go to Brazil for the experience my target is to go there 12 months later for the World Cup.

"For now I need to get these games under my belt."

On his brave decision to snub the advances of two of the country's largest clubs, he added: "I had the chance to speak to Chelsea but I didn't feel I needed to.

"But I've got a chance to join a club where I feel I can better develop my game and take it to the next level.

"I turned Manchester City down about a year ago. Again, I was flattered but Joe Hart is their undisputed number one and he was a main factor."

PA

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