Stoke City's England goalkeeper Jack Butland's new four-year deal could mean that the club are ready to offload first-choice Asmir Begovic, says former Potters defender Danny Higginbotham.
"I would not be surprised if Asmir was to move on in the summer," Higginbotham told BBC Radio Stoke.
"I do not believe that Jack would have signed for the length he has done, just to be the number two.
"He must have signed on the basis that he's going to get a first-team place."
Higginbotham added: "I think I've read talk of Asmir signing a new contract too, but contracts aren't worth the paper they're written on.
|Could Stoke be ready to play their Jack of Clubs?|
|Jack Butland, England's youngest-ever international keeper in August 2012 at the age of 19, has made just nine appearances for Stoke since being signed for £3.5m from Birmingham City in January 2012 - and one of them was as a half-time sub. He has kept himself busy on loan last season at Barnsley and Leeds United - and six games this season with Derby County. He was called into Roy Hodgson's latest England squad as a replacement following the injury to West Bromwich Albion keeper Ben Foster|
"What it means is that clubs are safeguarding their future and making any player they have signed up on a new deal worth a lot more money."
Higginbotham also insists that Mark Hughes' men, beaten 2-1 at home by Crystal Palace on Saturday, are well capable of improving on their current position of 10th to better last term's best-ever Premier League finish of ninth.
"It's important that the season doesn't peter out," he said. "They want to beat their best record.
"Mark Hughes has done fantastically. He's carried on TP's success but added to it and changed the style too."
But, looking ahead to next season, he sees the Potters facing a fight to sign on-loan Chelsea winger Victor Moses, their main creative spark this season, if they are serious about landing the 24-year-old on a more permanent deal.
"Stoke won't be the only club in for him," predicts Higginbotham. "His price tag is going to have gone up as he's had such an excellent season."