Jack’s pre-season aim

Jack Butland is hoping he can hit the ground running this pre-season as he prepares to challenge for a first-team place at Stoke City.

The England Under-21 goalkeeper spent two loan spells away from the Britannia Stadium last season, with Barnsley and Leeds United benefiting from his services in the Championship.

And after also impressing when called upon for Stoke in the Premier League inbetween those loans away, Butland wants to make sure he’s in the best shape possible when the Potters return to training this week.

Jack Butland captains England Under-21s in San Marino.

Butland enjoyed a good season with England Under-21s last term

“I wanted to give myself a chance this summer to mentally rest and get myself ready for pre-season,” revealed the former Birmingham City stopper, who joined Stoke in January 2013.

“I want to be strong when I get back to Stoke and I’m always looking to improve. 

“There is nothing I haven’t worked on since I have been at Stoke, I am always trying to improve every step of my game.”

Butland knows he faces a tough challenge though, with Bosnia & Herzegovina’s World Cup ‘keeper Asmir Begovic and the experienced Denmark international Thomas Sorensen his rivals for the shirt.

The 21-year-old sees it as a chance to continue his learning and development alongside the pair, but also realises that he may have to look at another temporary spell away from the club should he miss out.

“It is very beneficial training alongside Asmir Begovic and Thomas Sorensen,” admits Butland. 

“Thomas is remarkably experienced at club and international level and you can just watch the way he goes about things. 

Watch Butland in training with England in Toulon earlier this summer

“And Asmir has been amazing for Stoke so I’m always watching them in training – that’s how you become better.

“But we will see what happens, I have got the benefit of having a rest and starting pre-season when Asmir is still away resting up from the World Cup, so I have got to look to hit the ground running with Stoke. 

“I had a few games in January to show what I am about and I hope [Stoke boss] Mark Hughes was very pleased with what he has seen. 

“If I was to get the chance to build on that, it would be great.

“But if Asmir stays and I’m not playing, a loan is massively important. Nothing can prepare you for games better than playing games. 

“If something was to happen and he [Asmir] was to leave the club, I would like to think if I had a good pre-season I could persuade Mark Hughes to give me a shot and hopefully in the Premier League for Stoke.”