Jack Butland vowed to swallow his pride for the greater good if he fails in his bid to become England’s World Cup goalkeeper.
It is just a matter of days until Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions head east on the back of a preparation camp as smooth as anyone at the Football Association could have hoped.
The England manager has some tough calls to make ahead of the Group G opener against Tunisia, but many believe he has already settled on Jordan Pickford as his starting goalkeeper.
The Everton goalkeeper’s ability on the ball appears to have given him the edge over Butland, who has long been viewed as Joe Hart’s successor having performed so impressively for club and country over the years.
Despite Pickford being handed the number one shirt for Russia, the Stoke shot-stopper has not given up on the starting the June 18 opener and spoke eloquently about the importance of the ‘goalkeepers’ union’ this summer.
“You are all in the same boat,” Butland told Press Association Sport.
“Whether you play or whether you’re on the bench, or however it may be, at some point in your career you will be one of those three roles.
“You will either be a young, up-and-coming goalkeeper watching the experienced one, you’ll either be on the bench or you’ll be in goal yourself.
“We all understand the importance of the support, the importance of the group that you have around you because no one person can succeed fully if you don’t have the support of everyone else.
“It’s important that you’re humble and that you’re respectful and you put all pride aside.
“Whoever gets selected can’t succeed without the support and backing of the other two.
“Regardless of what happens, I want to be part of a successful England team and if I have to swallow my pride and disappointment at not being the number one, then I’ve got to do that for us to be successful and obviously to help whoever is in goal perform at their best.”
Pickford started last weekend’s 2-1 friendly win against Nigeria, with Butland getting the nod for Thursday’s 2-0 defeat of Costa Rica at Elland Road.
“Obviously there’s no official release or indication as to yet exactly who that starting line-up is going to be for Tunisia,” 25-year-old Butland said.
“So, until then, until that changes, I am going to continue to try and stake my claim and train and perform as well as I can.
“And if I get the opportunity, I will be ready to take it.
“And if not, I’ll be as good as a supporting player as I can be.”
Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope came off the bench for his debut on Thursday and completes an inexperienced goalkeeping trio boasting a mere 12 caps between them.
Butland accounts for eight of them and has gone away with his country on a variety of occasions, having been in the squad for Euro 2012, the London 2012 Olympics and a variety of development team tournaments.
“It feels like obviously a long time coming,” said the 2010 Under-17 European champion.
“It feels like something I’ve always been striving for and throughout the age groups I’ve always been lucky enough to be part of the young tournaments.
“But this is what we’ve always wanted to be a part of since a kid.
“Wearing the England shirt is amazing but wearing an England shirt at the World Cup is as good as it gets.
“So, yeah, it’s something that I think we’ve all dreamt of, whether we were fans or a player, so to be a part of that is awesome.
“It’s my first opportunity to go to a senior World Cup.
“I’ve been to an Under-20 World Cup in Colombia, which was insane. It was bigger than I ever thought it could be and I know this World Cup is going to be incredible.
“To be able to watch, to be a part of it, the excitement is obviously through the roof from everyone.
“Embrace and enjoy it as much as you can because these are special moments as a fan and as a player.”