JACK BUTLAND will be hoping to have a major say in England Under 21s European Championship destiny this summer . . . after receiving a call up to the 24-man squad this week from boss Stuart Pearce.
The Potters stopper, who last year became the country's youngest ever senior international goalkeeper against Italy, has been confirmed as part of the Three Lions travelling party for the Finals, which take place in Israel next month.
Pearce's side is full of strength in depth, and includes the likes of Liverpool's Jordan Henderson and Jonjo Shelvey, Wigan's FA Cup hero Callum McManaman and Manchester United starlet Wilfried Zaha (currently on loan at Crystal Palace).
The side kick off their campaign against Italy in Tel Aviv on Wednesday 5 June (7:30pm), before taking on Norway in Petah Tikva three days later (5pm).
The final game of the group stages comes against hosts Israel on Tuesday 11 June, with that potentially crucial encounter taking place in Jerusalem, with a 5pm kick off.
Speaking to FATV.COM, Pearce dropped is strongest hint yet that Butland will get the nod to start the tournament as number one, after performing so admirably at both domestic and international level over the past twelve months.
"The mainstay for us in goal over the past year or two has undoubtedly been Jack Butland, but obviously with him moving up and down between the Under 21 side and the full international side it has given an opportunity to the likes of Ruddy (Declan Rudd) and Steeley (Jason Steele)."
The news represents another major milestone for the highly rated 'keeper, who has risen to unprecedented prominence over the past 12 months.
A shock call up into the full England squad for the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine last summer was soon followed up by playing a starring role for Team GB in the 2012 Olympic Games, before making his senior bow for the Three Lions against Italy last August.
In January this year, Butland's Premier League dream was turned into reality when he completed a permanent move to the Britannia Stadium, bringing an end to his six-year association with Birmingham City.
Stokecityfc.com will be in regular contact with the stopper throughout the campaign, so be sure to join us as we bring you all of the news from the tournament, which kicks off in just under three weeks time.
The England Under 21 squad in full is:
Jack Butland (Stoke City), Declan Rudd (Norwich City), Jason Steele (Middlesbrough)
Steven Caulker (Tottenham Hotspur), Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton), Craig Dawson (West Bromwich Albion), Tom Lees (Leeds United), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Luke Shaw (Southampton), Adam Smith (Tottenham Hotspur), Andre Wisdom (Liverpool)
Nat Chalobah (Watford - loan from Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Tom Ince (Blackpool), Henri Lansbury (Nottingham Forest), Jason Lowe (Blackburn Rovers), Josh McEachran (Chelsea), Callum McManaman (Wigan Athletic), Jonjo Shelvey (Liverpool), Andros Townsend (Queens Park Rangers - loan from Tottenham Hotspur)
Marvin Sordell (Bolton Wanderers), Connor Wickham (Sunderland), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace - on loan from Manchester United)