Cape Town - England goalkeeper Jack Butland is close to returning from injury after experiencing the hardest year of his career.
Stoke’s Butland has been out of action since March last year after
suffering setbacks in his attempts to return from a troublesome ankle
The 24-year-old initially broke his ankle during an England friendly
against Germany, but then required another operation on the eve of the
Premier League campaign and then broke down again as he stepped up his
But after completing 90 minutes for Stoke Under-23s earlier this week, Butland is ready to put his injury misery behind him.
"I like a little bit of a smile and a swagger, but I was probably a
little bit more than that last night and had a grin on my face for 90
minutes," he said.
"I think recovering from the first operation wasn't that bad, it was
the feeling like I was back and then the day before the first game of
the season it all kind of went pear shaped.
"And that three months leading into the last operation was tough, it
was back and forth to specialists, radiologists, trying to get it right
and put a finger on what it was and how to deal with it. That was the
The England international will be hoping to be involved when Stoke welcome relegation strugglers Hull City to the Britannia Stadium en an English Premiership clash on Saturday.
Kick off is at 16:00.