Butland eyes breakthrough season

Jack Butland is keen to make the breakthrough at club level with Birmingham this season after his only other taste of domestic football came on loan at Cheltenham.

Football News: Jack Butland

Butland played 24 games for the League Two side last season but it proved a stepping stone for his Euro 2012 call-up with England and being Team GB's goalkeeper at the Olympic Games.

Now Butland, who could make his England debut against Italy on Wednesday, wants regular football with Blues after playing at St. Andrew's for the first time in a weekend friendly.

City have already rejected a £6million bid from Southampton for Butland this summer.

Butland said: "I've spoken to the manager (Lee Clark) and indicated what I want to do, which is play football.

"It's going to be another big season for me to carry on learning and to get a load of games under my belt.

"That's the target for me and, if I'm fortunate enough to get that chance, I'm going to have to take it and try to play 40-plus games this season.

"People mention Southampton's interest. That's football. There's always people watching you, no matter who you are or who you're playing for.

"That's irrelevant to me because I'm a Birmingham City player. I've got to perform for them, try to stay in the team and see what happens."

Butland admitted: "It was a nerve-racking experience for me at the weekend because I hadn't played at St. Andrew's before.

"I felt that I needed to show the Birmingham fans what I'm about because they've not seen me before. It was important to me."

Butland has a clear affinity for Blues which stems back to when he used to travel regularly as a schoolboy from Bristol to train with the midlands club.

He said: "It was a two and a half hour journey on the train, only one hour 15 minutes in the car, but it was something I didn't want to put on my mum and dad, to have to take me up and down.

"I would go to school on Monday and straight after school jump on a train for two and a half hours up to Birmingham. I would stay Monday night and train all day Tuesday with Dave Watson (now England goalkeeping coach).

"I would go home after training on Tuesday, go to school on Wednesday, back up to training on Wednesday afternoon after school.

"Then I'd train all day Thursday, go home on Thursday and then get the train back up Birmingham on Friday night to play for the academy sides on a Saturday.

"I was doing up to 10-12 hours a week sitting on a train to get to training but it was something I needed to do.

"But I still passed all my GCSEs - two As, six Bs and a C."

Butland admitted he would have tried his luck at other sports if he had not made the grade at football.

He said: "If it wasn't for football, I would have played rugby. If it wasn't rugby, it would have been basketball and I would have just gone through all the sports.

"I come from a rugby family, played until I was 15, 16 and I eventually had to say 'no, I have to choose one' and it was obviously going to be football.

"I miss playing rugby a lot. I love playing any sport. At school, any trip that was on, whether it was to play badminton, tennis, basketball, it was something I was madly involved in.

"I just wanted to play sport every day of the week."

Butland, although recognising he still has much to learn, is keen to push Hart, absent from the Italian clash with a slight back injury, as quickly as possible.

"Being number one for England is something I've always dreamed of doing. Joe is in there at the moment and only one can play.

"My target for the coming years is to be the biggest challenge I possibly can and stay in this squad for as long as possible because this is where I want to be for the foreseeable future.

"I want to challenge him as soon as I possibly can."

Butland also recognises he may alternate between the senior and under-21 squads to help with his development.

He said: "We've had the conversation already because there is nothing better than playing games.

"Throughout the years it's going to be a balance. Will I go on trips with the senior team and then which games will I play for the under-21s?

"I know I have to play. As fantastic an experience as it is to come away with the senior squad there is no better way to learn than play games.

"I know that situation and everyone does. There will be a lot of communication with Stuart Pearce about getting the best of both."

After embracing the Olympics and the GB team ethic, Butland is determined to keep his feet on the ground after his quickfire rise up the footballing ladder.

He said: "Things have happened so quickly for me and I'm thankful for the family I have. They are very grounded and keep my feet on the ground.

"They make sure I don't get ahead of myself, which is something I hate to see in players. The term 'big time', I hate to see that.

"That is something I am trying to avoid myself, I don't think I will have trouble doing that. I just think it's the borderline between confidence and arrogance really.

"Any professional needs to be confident in your own ability and what you can achieve, but there's a line between that and arrogance which not a lot of people step over.

"But it's a very careful line because it can taint people's views of you and, once you've lost that, it can be very difficult to get it back."

Butland enjoyed the entire Olympic experience and the chance to mix with the elite from other sports.

He said: "I think the main thing for us at the Olympics was that it wasn't just a football thing. It was Team GB and we were just a small part of that.

"We were on a level playing field with the swimmers, the athletes, the divers. I think that was a massive thing in not getting ahead of ourselves.

"It was a case of we're not special here, we're not better than anyone else. I think that was a massive part of us coming together as a team."

Before that Butland cut short a holiday in Mexico after Ruddy's broken finger handed him a Euro call-up.

He said: "I had just landed, I turned my phone on when I got in the airport and it went mad. I just knew something had happened, I didn't have to read it, so I said 'we have to go home'.

"My girlfriend was pretty gutted but we're still together! I spoke to a few of the England people and thankfully they agreed it would be unfair to call me back straight away.

"We managed five days of the 10 out there we were supposed to, which was a nice touch from their part and kept some of the parties happy!"

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