Stoke boss Mark Hughes feels Jack Butland is growing in stature by the day and expects a major tussle ahead between the goalkeeper and Joe Hart for an England starting spot.
Butland on Tuesday capped his latest impressive performance of 2015-16 by winning a penalty shoot-out for the Potters in the Capital One Cup against Chelsea, making the decisive save from Eden Hazard’s kick.
The 22-year-old, getting his first proper run as a Barclays Premier League number one this term, also made his second senior England appearance earlier this month.
Speaking at his press conference for Stoke’s league trip to Newcastle on Saturday, Hughes said: “Jack is playing exceptionally well and is full of confidence, which is a big thing for goalkeepers.
“He is enjoying his work and being number one here – it is what he believes he should be.
“He is growing day on day in terms of his presence and influence on the team and that is credit to him.”
Manchester City’s Hart, 28, is England’s established first-choice goalkeeper, but Hughes said: “I think Jack will play many games at international level.
“There is an exceptional goalkeeper in Joe Hart ahead of him at the moment, who is still a very young man himself.
“So there will be great competition for that position in the years to come and I think if Jack keeps fit and well and progressing at the rate he is at the moment, it will be a huge choice for whoever is the England manager – but a nice choice to have.”
After Butland’s heroics helped them into the cup quarter-finals, Stoke head to Newcastle looking to return to winning ways in the league, having lost 2-0 to Watford last weekend – a result which halted a run of top-flight victories that had reached three games.
Their hosts have had a similar change in fortunes over their previous two outings, the Magpies beating Norwich 6-2 and then losing 3-0 in the derby at Sunderland.
The Norwich result was the Tyneside outfit’s first league victory this season and they are second-bottom in the table.
Things have been difficult so far for Steve McClaren since his appointment as Newcastle manager over the summer, but Hughes has backed the former England boss to prosper at the club.
“There are huge demands and it seems to be a club that sways from one issue to another,” said Hughes, whose own side are currently 14th.
“It seems there is a little bit of noise that surrounds the club and that that has been the case for any number of years.
“Whoever is the manager has to deal with that and it is sometimes the issues off the field rather than on the field that seem to take up their time.
“But Steve is a very experienced manager who has been through these kinds of periods before.
“Steve will be looking to turn things around very quickly – and I’m sure he will.”