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


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?
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn