Jack Butland: Stoke City goalkeeper fully motivated and close to return after lost year
Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland says he is fully motivated to return before the end of this season after a year out with an ankle injury.
After England came back to win 3-2 in Germany on 26 March 2016, Butland, who had started the game to win his fourth cap that night, became a forgotten man.
And having been replaced by Fraser Forster at half-time that night in Berlin, he has not played since.
"This season's been a complete washout," Butland told BBC Radio Stoke.
But before Wednesday's Germany v England rematch in Dortmund, the 24-year-old made it clear that he is close to a return to full training.
"There have been times when you're waking up in the morning and it's hurting again, then you go a week and it feels good," he said.
"You're stabbing in the dark not knowing what's causing the issues. I had a dark couple of months. But I found a surgeon, who found that there was something easy to fix.
"I'm now motivated and ready to go. I'm not far off. I'm feeling fit and feeling strong. I'm kicking, diving and jumping and doing everything else I need to do.
"Next week I'll be joining in with the boys fully. Then it will be down to getting some game time, whether it be behind-closed-doors or an Under-23 game."
Competition for places at the Potters
Lee Grant has come in this season and established himself as Stoke's number one, but Butland is of a mind that competition for places is a good thing.
"There's no animosity between us. For Lee and me, it's about being the best we can be. That ultimately drives us on. I've always had that wherever I've been," he said.
"It would be beneficial for everyone, especially for me, if I can get some more games before I put this season to bed. That would be very positive for me."
Having missed Euro 2016, the former Birmingham City keeper had to have further surgery last September.
He was then due to feature for the Potters' Under-23 side in a game at Reading in December, only to pull out after feeling pain in the warm-up.
After being sent for a further MRI scan, the problem was finally diagnosed - and Butland's immediate target is now simply to push Grant for his place, while brushing off newspaper speculation linking him with Arsenal.
"I take it positively that I'm still well thought about in the football world after so long out," he added. "But my focus is on playing well for Stoke again.
"It's well within our rights to expect game time before the end of season, it's not biting off more than we can chew. I don't want to go into the summer with people 'umming and ahhing' and saying I've missed a whole season."
Jack Butland was talking to BBC Stoke's Matt Sandoz