Butland celebrating early birthday present after receiving all clear to return to training

Jack Butland is celebrating an "early birthday present" after the Stoke City goalkeeper was given the all clear to return to training following a 12-month injury nightmare.

The England goalkeeper has not played a competitive fixture since breaking his ankle playing for his country in a friendly victory over Germany in Berlin last March.

Butland consequently missed Euro 2016 and, although he returned to pre-season training, a fresh ankle problem was discovered a day before Stoke's Premier League opener against Middlesbrough.

A planned comeback for Stoke's Under-23s was shelved in December, but it appears that Butland is now finally on his way back.

Writing on Twitter, he said: "Surgeon couldn't be happier with my ankle, fracture completely healed and free to progress! Best early birthday present ever.

"Been a horrendous year of setbacks but finally got the news I've been waiting for! Now I can get the gloves back on and out on the pitch."

Addressing Butland's news at a pre-match news conference ahead of Stoke's trip to Manchester City on Wednesday, manager Mark Hughes said: "We have been waiting for the good news on Jack Butland and we have that now.

"He was due to see a consultant [on Monday] which went well.

"We suspected that would be the situation having spoken to Jack, hopefully we can get him playing again soon."

Butland, who signed for Stoke from Birmingham City in 2013, turns 24 on March 10.

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