The outgoing England Under-21s captain Jack Butland has said the country’s young players know they have to play more at the highest level for their clubs if the national team is to succeed in major tournaments.
Butland, 22, who is no longer eligible for the Under-21s, won the European Championship at Under-17s level in 2010 and hopes to become Stoke City’s first-choice goalkeeper next season with the impending departure of Asmir Begovic. Yet even he has struggled for game time in the Premier League and Championship at times and is a veteran of six loan spells at five different clubs
“It’s tough,” he said. “It’s certainly got nothing to do with the ability and talent of the players – they just need the chance to prove themselves. When you are given your opportunity, you have to take it. Harry [Kane] has done that this season. Danny [Ings] has done that this season. Many of our lads have done. Nathan Redmond has managed to get Norwich promoted.
“We have got enough but we need more. We need more guys playing in the top flight. We need more guys winning things and being key parts of a club team. This team has got the ability to do that.”
Butland also said that England teams had to know when to adapt their style of play from the possession-heavy approach that has become the strategy under Football Association technical director Dan Ashworth. “I think any fan couldn’t care less [about how you play] if you win the game,” he said. Yes, it’s nice to play better and this team certainly has the ability to do that. In all the young England groups, the ability and the talent is there. But you still have to be ruthless. You still have to know when to go long or shut up shop and take the pressure.”Reuse content