REUTERS - Stoke City manager Mark Hughes has urged goalkeeper Jack Butland to stay at the club next season to ensure he gets the maximum playing time instead of leaving for a top Premier League side where he could find himself a back-up.
The 24-year-old England international returned to the Stoke squad last month after a year out due to injury and British media has linked him with a move to Manchester City and United in the upcoming transfer window.
Hughes, however, believes Butland’s career would be better served staying at Stoke.
”There could be a changing of the guard in terms of goalkeepers at the top end,“ Hughes told reporters. ”But we are more concerned in making sure Jack is fit and well for next year and that’s Jack’s sole focus.
“He needs to be comfortable playing week in, week out and that’s the rhythm we are trying to get him into now.”
Hughes cited former Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic’s move to Chelsea as an example of how moving to a leading club can restrict appearances in the starting lineup.
Begovic has failed to dislodge Thibaut Courtois as the preferred choice between the sticks at Stamford Bridge over the last two seasons.
”I‘m sure when he went to Chelsea, knowing Asmir, he’d back his ability against anybody to be number one there and I think that was the motivation to go.
“As it is, it just hasn’t worked out because he’s a number one keeper and number one keepers want to play week-in, week-out.”
Stoke, 13th in the league, host Arsenal on Saturday before visiting Southampton in their final game of the season on May 21.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford; email@example.com; +822 3704 5698 Reuters; Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org