The Jack Butland story really has gained a tonne of traction the past 10 days. While the ex-Stoke and Palace stopper has been in superb form since joining Rangers, it really hit the press when Premier League side Nottingham Forest tested the water with a miserly £5M bid.
This followed, of course, Butland’s quotes in the press a few days earlier citing that his ambitions were very much to get back into the England setup, and with that a story has been born.
England – is Butland good enough for England?
Well it’s a dichotomy. The England national team is absolutely chock-full of world class players.
Guys like Sancho, Alexander-Arnold and Trippier can barely get a foot in the door with Gareth Southgate’s side, Kalvin Phillips even less.
Outfield England are one of the best-stocked international teams out there – they really are an embarrassment of riches, and arguably have the world’s best striker and world’s best playmaker, on current form, to boast on their roster. That’s how good England are these days, they have both Bayern and Real’s best players.
Kane, Bellingham, Sako, Foden, Rice, Rashford, Grealish, Tomori, James, Maddison, Walker, Sterling, Gallagher, Mount, Chilwell… we could go on all day without even mentioning Sancho, AA and Trippier.
But in goal it’s that dichotomy. They absolutely stink at the back.
They have Jordan Pickford, a very solid but not spectacular goalie, as their first choice – he’s Everton’s number one, and that’s about as good as it gets.
Behind him are Arsenal’s out-of-favour Aaron Ramsdale, Newcastle’s injured Nick Pope, and Crystal Palace’s Sam Johnstone.
It is such a mediocre list of stoppers behind a world class squad, that if on-fire-at-Scotland’s-biggest-club Jack Butland isn’t a contender, it’s the SPL problem again.
The last Rangers player to turn out for England was already-England-international Paul Gascoigne in 1997, and the last Celtic one was Fraser Forster under Woy.
The SPL is, absolutely, a garbage division, solely propped up by the Old Firm, with Rangers the single reason for the staggering co-efficient rating this country as among the top 10 leagues in Europe.
The truth is outside of Rangers and Celtic it’s League 2 England level.
On that basis, Butland thriving in goal is nothing to crow about.
But it’s Rangers. It’s a colossal side. It’s a European last 16 and Sevilla finalist, it’s a Butland doing it for one of Britain’s biggest teams and on the European stage. He’s shone against fine European sides.
Gareth Southgate, understandably, however, is a Premier League snob. He really only wants players shining at that level. Which is why England are so strong these days.
But in goals the competition just isn’t good – England’s stoppers are probably the weakest they’ve been for a long, long time, and Butland has a completely valid case to at least be included.
He’s enjoying arguably the strongest spell of his career, and he and Southgate have spoken.
Is he going to Germany?
That’s a toss of a coin.