Jack Butland is already enjoying his loan spell at Leeds United, and wants to achieve something special in the remainder of the season.
The 20-year-old linked up with the Championship side last week, and recorded a clean sheet in his first match as his temporary side earned a goalless draw at Middlesbrough on Saturday. This leaves the Whites in 11th place in the second-tier standings, some seven points adrift of the crucial sixth position with 15 games remaining.
A point from their visit to the Riverside Stadium, therefore, has done little to enhance their playoff chances, coming on the back of the 1-0 loss at Brighton & Hove Albion earlier this month. However, Butland has urged his team-mates not to lose hope, and the young goalkeeper believes they can still achieve something special this term.
“The target’s got to be the play-offs,” he told the Yorkshire Evening Post. “With the expectation and size of the club as it is, it would be wrong not to target that. I think we’ve got the lads to do it point. The support that comes with wearing the badge and playing for Leeds is incredible and this is a great opportunity to be part of something special.”
Butland was in impressive form as he kept out Boro on Teesside. In the first half he expertly tipped a Jacob Butterfield volley over the crossbar, he also dealt with a Danny Graham overhead kick, and came racing off his line with 10 minutes to go to deny Albert Adomah. So as Roy Hodgson considers his options ahead of the friendly with Denmark next month, can the young goalkeeper force his way into the England squad?
“Jack Butland was outstanding this afternoon,” Leeds manager Brian McDermott enthused after the draw with Boro. “He made a couple of really good saves, he came for crosses and he kicked well. He is very mature, he’s hungry, and he wants to go to the World Cup Finals with England. And we want to help him achieve this ambition.”
Butland, who is under contract at parent club Stoke City, became the youngest goalkeeper to win a senior international cap for England when, at the age of 19 years and 158 days, he started a friendly against Italy in 2012. That remains his one and only full cap to date, but if he continues to impress, it is likely he will add to this tally in the future.