Butland enters race to be fit to face Man City


England goalkeeper Jack Butland could make a surprise return for Stoke City in Saturday's Premier League match versus Manchester City.

Butland has not played since suffering a broken ankle during England's international friendly against Germany in March and he suffered a setback in his recovery on the eve of the new season.

Veteran Shay Given started Saturday's 1-1 draw against newly promoted Middlesbrough and, speaking after the match, manager Mark Hughes said Butland would not be available for England's opening 2018 World Cup qualifier in Slovakia.

But Hughes' assistant Mark Bowen told BBC Radio Stoke that there is an outside chance of Butland being in the frame to face Pep Guardiola's men.

"Jack hasn't trained today [Tuesday] but he has been out there, in the sunshine, with a big smile on his face which was good for us all to see," Bowen said.

"He tells me that he is feeling fine, and depending on how the rest of the week goes there may even be a chance of him being ready for the game on Saturday - although I say that with caution.

"Obviously, we have three or four days before then and anything can happen, but if he keeps on improving the way that he is, and he rests it up well over the next day, then who knows."

Bowen added: "I think the diagnosis that he received was that a little bit of scar tissue had come away which was causing him the real pain, but now that has settled, he is feeling a lot better."

Butland has extra incentive to make a quick return at club level, as Joe Hart losing his place in the Manchester City side over the past week could open up a starting berth in Sam Allardyce's England side.