Hughes reveals Butland heroics
Published 22/08/2015 | 18:48
Stoke manager Mark Hughes revealed goalkeeper Jack Butland defied a broken finger to produce his man-of-the-match display in the 1-1 draw at Norwich.
The 22-year-old has stepped up into the Stoke number one jersey following the departure of Asmir Begovic to Chelsea.
Stoke needed Butland to be at his best in the Barclays Premier League clash at Carrow Road as the young goalkeeper pulled off a string of impressive saves to deny the Canaries during a second-half onslaught.
The visitors had taken an early lead through Mame Diouf, heading in a fine free-kick from debutant Xherdan Shaqiri, only for Norwich captain Russell Martin to level following a drinks break in the sweltering temperatures.
After both Cameron Jerome and Wes Hoolahan missed good chances in the second half, Butland produced saves out of the top drawer to deny Nathan Redmond and then Graham Dorrans twice as Stoke held out for a point.
Hughes said: "He was close to missing the game because he has broken a finger, so when his fingers are all right, he will be even better, if that is possible.
"He showed a lot of maturity prior to the match, because he needed to be honest with me with what he was able to produce and whether or not it was going to compromise him.
"It was just in training, when a ball hit the end of it, and has a bit of a crack and it will get strapped up.
"He will have to pay with a bit of pain for a couple of weeks, but he will be fine."
Butland is expected to be in contention for a place in the England squad for the upcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers.
Hughes said: "He has those aspirations (to be England regular), but first and foremost he has to play week in and week out as a number one at Stoke City.
"It is still early days in his career, but he is doing everything right at the moment.
"We are delighted with what he has produced in his games so far, and the more he has as a number one, then the better he will become.
"We were grateful to Jack for making the saves which kept us in the game later on."
Hughes was happy enough with the contribution of Swiss international Shaqiri, who was signed from Inter Milan for £12million.
"He did okay, and has not had a lot of football in pre-season," Hughes said.
"He will get better once we understand what we need from him and when the players know when he will need the ball to be effective, that will all come with time."
Hughes accepted the weather, which saw two stoppages for drinks break, played a part in the end result.
He said: "Conditions were difficult for both teams, and that tempered the edge you need to be dynamic in your game."
Norwich manager Alex Neil felt his side had done enough to take all three points.
"If you look at the game over the 90 minutes in terms of chances created, we were the better side," said Neil, whose side won at Sunderland last weekend.
"We should have scored, albeit for good goalkeeping or poor finishing, we did not get the three points we deserved."
Norwich have seen a bid rejected for Stoke forward Jonathan Walters, who was missing from the match-day squad because of illness.
Neil, though, is determined to focus on getting the best out of the players he already has.
The Scot added: "You would be more concerned if you were not creating chances.
"If we had taken two or three of those chances in the second half, then no-one is discussing that (transfers), and are just discussing about how well we played."