International

Butland handed England start against Lithuania

2017-10-07 17:25
Jack Butland

London - Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland will replace Joe Hart for England's final World Cup qualifier against Lithuania on Sunday.

Hart has been England's first-choice goalkeeper under Gareth Southgate, but with England now qualified for the World Cup, Butland has been handed the shirt for the last match of the campaign.

England beat Slovenia 1-0 at Wembley on Thursday to wrap up qualification, giving Three Lions boss Southgate the opportunity to make changes in Lithuania, with Butland among the beneficiaries.

"He has been patient for his opportunity, his form has been good. It's a good opportunity for Jack," Southgate said on Saturday.

"Jack was my captain at under-21 level. He's an outstanding personality, a strong leader, so why don't we use those qualities?

"He's been patient for his opportunity and his form is good."

Southgate believes England, who have conceded just three goals in nine qualifiers, are well served for goalkeeping options ahead of next year's World Cup in Russia.

Jordan Pickford, Fraser Forster and Tom Heaton, who is currently injured, will all be competing for places in Southgate's squad.

"We've got great competition for places. Joe was excellent the other night. We've got other good goalkeepers," Southgate said.

Southgate is also likely to experiment with his tactics as he looks to develop a system capable of aiding England's chances in Russia.

Aware of the criticism following England's limp performance against Slovenia, Southgate acknowledged his team are still a work in progress.

"It is a results business but the way I want to play is to entertain as well. This is a game where we want to give a strong performance and win," he said.

"We were very clear in our mind how wanted to evolve and we've got an extra game to do that now, which is a great opportunity to look at a couple of things.

"Everyone was disappointed with the performance, none more so than me. We want to learn thing from the game and don't want to waste that opportunity."

Harry Maguire, Michael Keane, Harry Winks, Kieran Trippier and Jesse Lingard are among the understudies who could feature against Lithuania.

"For sure we'll make changes but want to get the balance right," Southgate said.

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