Tuesday, September 26

Mark Hughes: 'Jack Butland ready to replace Joe Hart'

Jack Butland has a "really good case" to become England's number-one keeper heading into the World Cup finals, according to Stoke City manager Mark Hughes.

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes has told England counterpart Gareth Southgate to stop being so loyal to Joe Hart and instead make Jack Butland his first-choice keeper.

The Three Lions boss made a big decision to stick with Hart for this month's latest batch of qualifiers, despite the West Ham United loanee's questionable form over the past 12 months.

Hughes insists that Butland - who missed the vast majority of last season through injury - has shown enough to finally replace England's long-serving number one, with the World Cup finals now just nine months away.

"I understand maybe to a certain extent that Gareth would want to be loyal but sometimes you have to deal with the here and now rather than think about what's gone on in the past," he told reporters.

"If you're in the business of winning games you have to go with the guy that's in form. I can understand that Joe probably a strong influence in the dressing room and you have to take all those things into account, it's not just about form.

"So I'm probably being a little bit simplistic saying that but purely on form then Jack had a really good case in my view. Form fluctuates and comes and goes, the quality is always there in terms of both keepers. That doesn't go away but form can."

Hart kept his first clean sheet in 23 league outings on Monday night as West Ham beat Huddersfield Town 2-0 at the London Stadium.

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