MLS expansion franchise Orlando City SC are lining up a shock move for Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland, according to the Daily Star.
Orlando, who are set for their inaugural MLS campaign in 2015, have strong connections to Stoke, with co-owner and president Phil Rawlins a former long-time director at the club, and head coach Adrian Heath an ex-Potters forward.
Butland, 21, is currently on loan at Championship leaders Derby County until this weekend, and the Florida-based outfit are reportedly looking to bring him in on another short-term stint for the first-half of next season, while recent signing Tally Hall continues his recovery from a serious knee ligament injury.
Playing in the same line-up as Brazil superstar Kaka, the keeper would then be due to head off to the European Under-21 Championships in late-June, where he is expected to captain Gareth Southgate’s side.
Butland joined Stoke from Birmingham City for £3.25 million back in January 2013 but, after returning to St Andrew’s for the remainder of the campaign, as made just three Premier League starts since.
Unable to displace first-choice Asmir Begovic or backup Thomas Sorensen, the promising shot-stopper has enjoyed productive spells in the second-tier with Barnsley, Leeds United and now Derby in the meantime, and remains an important part of the club’s future plans with the on-going speculation surrounding Begovic's future.
Having rejected Chelsea in favour of Stoke following his starring performances for Birmingham, Butland was also called into England’s Euro 2012 squad after an injury to third choice John Ruddy, before earning his first and so far only cap in a friendly against Italy the following August.
Becoming the youngest ever Three Lions keeper at 19 years 158 days, his temporary signing would be viewed as a big coup for Orlando, who are in the midst of building their roster for their MLS debut, but it remains to be seen whether the US club will have the pull to manage such a move.