Pearce unsure on Butland call

Daily Echo: Jack Butland Jack Butland

England Under-21s coach Stuart Pearce is keen to take Jack Butland to the European Championship finals this summer but admits he is mindful of the balancing act that goes with the goalkeeper's progress at senior level.

Birmingham goalkeeper Butland, 19, who was the subject of an unsuccesful summer bid from Saints, lined up between the sticks during the Young Lions' successful qualification campaign for the Euro finals in Israel, which run from June 5-18.

As well being first choice for Pearce's Team GB Olympics side in London last summer, Butland was also an unused member of Roy Hodgson's Euro 2012 squad having been called up from the standby list as a replacement for the injured John Ruddy.

He later went on to make his full Three Lions bow in a friendly against Italy in August last year, becoming England's youngest-ever international goalkeeper.

It now remains to be seen what 2013 holds for Butland - with England Under-21s gunning to conquer Europe and Hodgson's senior squad gearing up for a host of high-profile internationals which includes a friendly against Brazil in Rio de Janeiro in early June.

Pearce, whose Young Lions, probably including Saints full back Nathaniel Clyne, open the calendar year against Sweden at Walsall's Banks's Stadium on Tuesday February 5, said: "Jack has been a big part of the squad, how we use him and his time between the senior team and the Under 21s is very critical but we want to take the strongest possible squad in the summer.

"There is a good tour of South America in the summer for the seniors as well."

The immediate future is more uncertain for Butland having been heavily linked with a move away from cash-strapped Birmingham, who are keen to raise much-needed funds.

Southampton saw a £6million bid rejected for his services last summer but a similar offer over the remaining eight days of the January transfer window is likely to see him leave the npower Championship club.

No bids have been received as yet but the likes of Fulham, Newcastle, Everton and Liverpool are all reported to be interested.

Pearce added: "There has been a lot of speculation with Jack maybe leaving Birmingham this month and that speculation will continue until the transfer window shuts at the end of the month.

"He has done very well when I have seen him play to be fair. He plays above his years and you can't lose track of that he's only still 19 years old.

"The season has gone as well as to be expected for him and expectations have gone that much higher on him whenever he plays for Birmingham, I've seen them play a fair few times this season and Jack has done fantastically well."

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