England keeper spot up for grabs with Butland injury


Jack Butland will be unavailable for Sam Allardyce's first England squad after the Stoke City goalkeeper sustained an ankle injury in training.

Butland was absent for Stoke City's 1-1 draw away to newly-promoted Middlesbrough, with manager Mark Hughes conceding the injury "knocked us sideways" during training in the lead-up to Saturday's Premier League opener.

After the 23-year-old Butland missed England's Euro 2016 campaign due to his initial ankle fracture, it appears scar tissue caused the latest injury.

Hughes insisted Butland will be unavailable for Allardyce's first match in charge, when England open their World Cup qualification cycle against Slovakia, in Trnava on September 4.

"He won't be involved in that. It's important he gets back to playing and training and he'll need a two-week period after the injury where he needs to get up to speed," Hughes said.

"We don't want to put a timescale on it but we've had good news. It should settle down quickly and it's a matter of weeks rather than anything more significant thankfully."

With Pep Guardiola dropping Joe Hart for Manchester City's 2-1 win over Sunderland on Saturday, following a highly scrutinised Euro 2016, his position becomes more precarious.

While Fraser Forster and Tom Heaton were selected in Roy Hodgson's squad for France, with Butland's injury, it remains unclear just who Allardyce will select.

Hughes, meanwhile, is merely relieved Butland's injury is not as grave as initially feared.

"There was no challenge, he just felt an uncomfortable feeling in the ankle and as the session progressed he was in more pain," the Welsh boss said.

"In the end he had to stop and sit it out. But it's better news. When he first did it we thought that he had maybe re-fractured it and Jack was quite concerned at the time. It's just an injury that will take a couple of weeks hopefully."