Jack Butland could have been playing for England against Slovakia

England's Jack Butland during the national anthem before the game

The Stoke City goalkeeper may have found himself representing his country after Joe Hart's recent performances.

England's Jack Butland during the national anthem before the gameEngland's Jack Butland

If Stoke City's Jack Butland hadn't been so unfortunate with injury, there is a chance he would have been taking to the pitch against Slovakia for England on Monday evening, which would have made him the first Stoke man to play a tournament match for England in 46 years. 

England number one Joe Hart has struggled to impress in his country's opening two matches, unable to prevent Russia from equalising late in England's opener, and then letting Gareth Bale's free kick slip through his hands in the win over Wales. Though it would be harsh to criticise him too much for the first game, he was certainly culpable in the second match, and England boss Roy Hodgson might have looked to bring in Butland for the final group match, either resting Hart or giving Butland a more substantial chance.

England's Joe Hart reacts after the gameEngland's Joe Hart reacts after the game with Wales

There is little doubt that the Potters' young stopper was in sensational form last season. The 23-year-old finally made the breakthrough at Premier League level, having taken in mainly loan spells amidst his occasional appearances at the Britannia, where Asmir Begovic has been undisputed number one in recent years.

But with Begovic moving to Chelsea last summer, there was plenty of confidence in Butland to step up and prove his class, and the former Birmingham man did so comfortably. With Hart having a couple of questionable matches as Manchester City lacked consistency in the league, there had been talk of Butland not only making the England squad but also making a genuine challenge to Hart's position as number one.

Stoke's Jack ButlandStoke's Jack Butland

Sadly for Butland, that opportunity was taken from him after he fractured his ankle with England in March. Otherwise, there is every chance he would have been the first Potters man to feature for England in an international tournament since Gordon Banks in 1970.

It remains to be seen whether Hodgson will turn to one of Butland's replacements, with Fraser Forster and Tom Heaton in the squad as Hart's back up, but given Butland's talent and age, his time will surely come.

England's Jack Butland (C) and John Ruddy (R) with goalkeeping coach Dave Watson during trainingEngland's Jack Butland (C) and John Ruddy (R) with goalkeeping coach Dave Watson during training

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