Butland: I want to be number one
Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland is motivated by the prospect of being selected in England's World Cup squad and has set his sights on becoming the country's number one in the coming years.
Butland has long been touted as one to watch and after impressing for Great Britain at London 2012, he became England's youngest ever international goalkeeper at 19 years and 158 days in the friendly win against Italy in August 2012.
Butland has not added to his sole cap, while his last call-up came in February this year, but he has not given up hope of earning a squad place in Brazil next summer.
Yet the 20-year-old, who is currently on a 93-day emergency loan at Championship side Barnsley, knows he needs to be playing regularly to have a chance of being considered by England boss Roy Hodgson.
"I feel that I'm capable of getting back into the squad and that's my target: international football," Butland told Press Association Sport.
"I want to be the number one for England, no doubt about it, and I want to go to the World Cup.
"But to do that I need to be playing week in week out, playing well and playing at the highest level possible."
Manchester City's Joe Hart is the firm favourite to be manager Roy Hodgson's number one in South America, while Butland is vying with John Ruddy, Fraser Forster, Ben Foster and Alex McCarthy for a place on the plane to Brazil.
Of those five options for Hodgson, Butland is at a distinct disadvantage as he is the only one not currently playing in a top-flight division.
"If I don't manage to reach the World Cup squad in the summer, it's not going to deter me at all, it's going to make me even more determined to get back in the squad for the future tournaments," Butland, speaking before England's defeat by Spain in the European Women's Under-17 Championship semi-final on Thursday, said.
"I feel like I'm improving with every day that passes and when I get the opportunity to play in the Premier League I'm confident I'll take it.
"If I manage to do that then the international stuff will almost take care of itself - if I'm playing at a regular high standard in the Premier League then I can be knocking on the door. Until then I can't be so I'm just focused on playing regular first-team football.
"If I am and I'm playing well then hopefully I can get back in the England squad."
Butland joined Stoke from Birmingham in the summer in a deal thought to be worth Â£3.5million but found his path to the first team blocked by Asmir Begovic and Thomas Sorensen.
Rather than bide his time at the Britannia Stadium, Butland opted to join Barnsley in a loan deal that ends on Boxing Day in an effort to gain more first-team experience.
The move has attracted criticism in some quarters as Birmingham are above rock-bottom Barnsley in the Championship, yet Butland has no regrets.
"I knew when I joined Stoke that I might not be able to get straight into the team but I was comfortable with that," he said.
"For many reasons, it was the right time to leave (Birmingham) and I still stand by the decision to leave as much as it was tough.
"A lot of people have seen I've gone on loan to Barnsley as a negative, but that's their opinion.
"As far as I'm concerned I've improved, I'm putting in far more consistent performances and I'm on track."
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