Gordon Banks is shocked by Jack Butland's rapid improvement this season. The World Cup-winning goalkeeper has been impressed with the Stoke City star's performances in recent months and thinks Butland has emerged as a serious contender for the England number one jersey.
Butland, 22, is currently Joe Hart's deputy at international level. However, Banks thinks he could one day usurp the Manchester City stopper.
"He's done really, really well and I can't believe how quickly he's coming through, I really can't," he told TheFA.com. "He was playing for the Under-21s last season and all of a sudden he's playing for Stoke, and as soon as I saw him, I thought, this lad's going to be challenging."
Butland has enjoyed a nomadic career to date, moving from Birmingham City to Stoke in 2013, before experiencing loan spells at Barnsley, Leeds United and Derby County. Now, though, Banks believes he is providing stiff competition for Hart.
"He's put the pressure on Joe Hart without any question," said Banks. "It's definitely pretty close between him and Joe now and I was a tiny bit disappointed that Jack didn't play once we'd got through to the finals. That would have given him that little bit of experience which you need but it's wonderful to see him doing so well."
Banks, 78, also revealed he recently chatted to Butland and discovered he has been following his own path to success. "I met him for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I said to him: 'Jack, to be honest, watching you play and how well you're doing, you must be doing what I did and getting a lot of practice with a lot of shooting at you," he said. "And he said that was exactly what he was doing and how much he was enjoying it."