Liverpool have been warned off making an approach for Birmingham City's Jack Butland. The 19-year-old is considered one of the national team's brightest prospects and became the youngest goalkeeper to play for England when he made his debut in a friendly against Italy on 15 August.
"We've got no intentions of letting the young players go," City manager Lee Clark was quoted as saying by ESPN, adding, "The likes of Jack Butland and Nathan Redmond are the future of the club. If we were to cash in on them now, we'd be doing ourselves a disservice. Once they've got another year or two of experience, they'll be worth huge amounts of money."
Butland was Stuart Pearce's first choice goalkeeper at the London Olympics 2012 and put in a good showing, prompting his call-up to the national team as a replacement for the injured No 1, Manchester City's Joe Hart.
"I think especially as a goalkeeper, experience is a massive thing. There's no better practice than playing games and thankfully I managed to do that at the Olympics. But being able to see how the likes of Joe Hart and Rob Green work and train as well as the other lads in the squad, the Euros were just as beneficial as the Olympics," the youngster was quoted as saying ahead of the game against Italy.
However, clubs interested in his services will be aware that Butland has very limited experience. He made his senior debut for Birmingham in the 1-1 draw against Charlton on the opening day of the Championship and has otherwise only made 24 appearances for League Two side Cheltenham Town.
Nevertheless, there are reports that in addition to Liverpool, Southampton, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur are queueing up to sign the youngster. The Mirror reports Rodgers is willing to pay in the region of £7.5m for Butland, who would be a long-term replacement for Spaniard Pepe Reina. The deal, however, could include a clause whereby Butland remains with Birmingham, on loan, to complete his development.
Manchester CIty view Butland as part of a project to introduce young English players into the first team and are reportedly also considering a move for Butland's team-mate Redmond and Spurs defender Steven Caulker. They have already signed midfielder Jack Rodwell from Everton, for a reported £15m.
Spurs, too, view Butland as a signing for the future, with club chairman Daniel Levy preparing for life after American No 1 Brad Friedel. Southampton may have the edge though, as they will offer Butland regular Premier League action and have already had a £6m offer rejected.