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Sunday 20 August 2017

Jack Butland focused on playing well for Stoke, not on his future - Mark Hughes

Jack Butland is set to make the third appearance of his comeback when Stoke face Bournemouth away on Saturday.
Jack Butland is set to make the third appearance of his comeback when Stoke face Bournemouth away on Saturday.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes expects clubs to show a firm interest in Jack Butland - but has stressed that is "for the future".

The goalkeeper recently returned to the first team having spent just over a year on the sidelines after fracturing his ankle while playing for England.

He has made two appearances so far and produced an impressively solid showing in the latest outing, Stoke's 0-0 home draw with West Ham last weekend that was watched from the stands by Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate.

Butland has been linked with Premier League big guns in the past and this week it was reported Manchester City are considering making a move for him this summer - something put to Hughes on Friday as he previewed Saturday's trip to Bournemouth.

When asked if he felt he will have a job on his hands trying to keep hold of the 24-year-old, Hughes said: "Jack's an outstanding keeper and I'm sure in the future there will be probably more concrete interest in him.

"At the moment it's just speculation, just because he has got back in the team after a year out. All the speculation that was beginning to grow prior to the injury is starting all over again. It's to be expected.

"But I think from Jack's point of view, he is clear in his own mind that he needs just to get back fit and well and really establish himself back in the first team here.

"Once he's over that process, then any further ambitions need to be looked at in the future.

"I think he understands what he's got here. He's got a good club, he is playing in the Premier League and has had senior England recognition while here. I know he's very happy in terms of how he's been able to develop and the part we have played.

"Jack will have suitors in the future, no doubt, but that's for the future.

"His immediate focus certainly is just playing well for Stoke and making sure he's okay."

Meanwhile, Hughes has emphasised Stoke are looking to secure club captain Ryan Shawcross on a new deal, and his optimism on that front.

Defender Shawcross, recently linked with Newcastle, is currently on a contract that runs out in 2018.

"He is a big part of what we are trying to do here," Hughes said.

"I think there is a willingness on both sides to come to some agreement. I don't think we are anywhere too far down the road in terms of the initial negotiations, but certainly our intention is to try to re-contract Ryan if we can.

"We have no reason to think he wouldn't be keen.

"We'll see how it goes. It is early stages yet but once that process starts I would imagine it will be completed very quickly."

Hughes has also confirmed Potters midfielder Stephen Ireland, who has been out since breaking his leg a year ago and on a contract due to expire this summer, is to be given a new short-term deal.

Hughes said: "I think it's only fair and the right thing to do.

"We're going to give him just a little bit more time to get back fit and well. Once he has done that, hopefully he can earn another contract.

"The end of this season will come too soon for him in terms of being ready to show what he can do."

Hughes' men head to Bournemouth having won only one of their previous eight league games.

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