Stoke City have been dealt a significant fitness blow ahead of their next Premier League clash against Tottenham Hotspur on 10 September, with the news that first-choice goalkeeper Jack Butland is set to undergo an operation and faces more time on the sidelines. The 23-year-old has not played a competitive match since March, when he suffered a fractured ankle during the first half of England's memorable 3-2 friendly victory over Germany in Berlin.
Such an injury forced Butland to miss Euro 2016 and he cruelly suffered a setback during a training session the day before Stoke began the new season with a 1-1 draw at newly promoted Middlesbrough. Recent reports from The Telegraph have suggested that he is potentially looking at a further two months out after scans this week revealed lingering trouble with scar tissue and the player has now taken to social media to provide his own update.
"A little update on the injury," Butland posted on Twitter. "I'll be having a minor operation on Monday to resolve my current ankle issue. Rather than push through and risk damaging further, I'd like to have it sorted for good and be back to the levels I was at last year.
"I'm as positive as always and will do everything to be back as soon as possible. Thank you for all your support, JB."
After establishing his significant potential with Birmingham City and during loan spells with Cheltenham Town as well as featuring for a one-off Great Britain team at the London 2012 Olympics, Butland joined Stoke in January 2013 before being loaned back to St Andrew's for the remainder of the season. He was later dispatched for temporary stints in the Championship with Barnsley, Leeds United and Derby County before becoming Mark Hughes' undisputed number one following the sale of Asmir Begovic to Chelsea.
He grabbed that opportunity with both hands, making 31 top-flight appearances and being voted as Stoke's Player of the Year at their end-of-season awards ceremony. In Butland's absence this term, the Potters have relied upon 40-year-old Shay Given to man the fort ahead of Jakob Haugaard. In addition to securing the services of Manchester City striker Wilfried Bony on transfer deadline day, Hughes also recruited Lee Grant on loan from Derby to provide extra cover.
Butland's continued absence also comes at a particularly unfortunate time with regards to his international prospects. With Joe Hart having been dropped by Pep Guardiola before a loan move to Torino and Fraser Forster replaced in the squad by Southampton teammate Alex McCarthy, he could well have started England's opening 2018 World Cup qualifier – also their first match under Sam Allardyce – against Slovakia in Trnava on Sunday (4 September).