Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland has revealed he will leave the Britannia Stadium on loan this week in order to boost his chances of going to the World Cup in Brazil next summer, according to The Mirror.
Butland, 20, joined the Potters from cash-strapped Birmingham City for an initial fee of £3.3 million after putting pen to paper on a four-and-a-half-year contract last January.
The England international, who reportedly rejected a move to Chelsea in favour of signing for the Staffordshire club, is currently the No. 2 to highly-rated Bosnia and Herzegovina international Asmir Begovic.
At the moment, Butland’s chances of leapfrogging Begovic in Mark Hughes’ pecking order are slim to none, with the Bosnian having started the new season in a purple patch of form.
The 20-year-old shot-stopper will need regular first-team football if he is to be named to the England squad for next summer’s World Cup.
Portuguese Primeira Liga side Sporting CP and Sheffield Wednesday are keen on signing Butland on a season-long loan deal, with a temporary move away from Stoke-on-Trent seemingly imminent.
“It will be sorted out in the next few weeks so there is no worry there,” said Butland.
“Without a doubt, to go to Rio is my target.
“I know the only chance of me getting there is to be playing week in, week out and putting in extremely good performances.
“I want to make sure I do that to give myself the best opportunity of going.
“It is difficult being a keeper because only one of you can play – and I have no shame in not playing because of Asmir.
“He is an incredible keeper, but I have improved since I joined Stoke and that is important to me.”
Butland made 46 appearances in the Championship for Birmingham City last season, helping the Blues achieve a mid-table (12th-place) finish.
Allegri: Kaka has improved Milan
AC Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri has heaped praise on new signing Kaka, insisting the Brazilian ace has already improved Milan by elevating the level of confidence throughout the Rossoneri squad.
Kaka, 31, rejoined Milan on a free transfer from Real Madrid after four disappointing years at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.
The 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year has been signed as a replacement for Kevin-Prince Boateng, who signed for Schalke 04 for a fee believed to be in the region of €15 million last week.
“Kaka has great quality, is a champion and his presence raises the level of self-confidence throughout the squad,” Allegri told Milan Channel.
“I must do well to get the best out of him and help him reach peak fitness. You cannot expect a player, even one of his level, to be ready straight away.
“Kaka is a lovely guy who is eager to work hard, which he proved already in training.”
The 31-year-old attacking midfielder captained Milan and played 45 minutes in a 4-0 friendly win over Swiss Challenge League side FC Chiasso on Saturday.
Kaka’s performance left many with the impression that he could be a very important player for Milan this season, but only time will tell.