Butland back in three months after injury woe is finally solved
Stoke manager Mark Hughes, whose side visit Liverpool in the league on Tuesday, is confident the club have finally got to the bottom of Jack Butland's ankle injury.
However, the England keeper faces up to another three months on the sidelines after undergoing a further operation - meaning he is facing the prospect of going a year without playing.
Butland has not played a competitive game since fracturing his ankle in England's friendly win in Germany on March 27 and he has suffered a number of setbacks in his recovery.
The 23-year-old was set to play in Stoke's Premier League opener at Middlesbrough but pulled out after aggravating the problem.
After surgery in September he was due to play in an Under-23s game earlier this month, only to withdraw after feeling pain in the warm-up.
Butland went under the knife again last week and Hughes hopes his player can now put the injury behind him for good and get his career back on track.
"He's probably looking at two to three months. Hopefully we'll get him back before the end of the season," said Hughes.
"The story on the injury was that there were issues in the ankle in terms of the fracture, some were addressed and some weren't and some were missed. The fracture where the bone came away was clearly fixed but there was an underlying stress fracture that wasn't showing up on scans unfortunately and that explains the pain he was feeling.
"He shouldn't get any complications now. We now feel and everybody feels comfortable that the ankle is sound and the issue within the ankle has been resolved and now he just needs the bones to heal.
"Once they do he will be fine but it's going to be a long time and it's a year out of his career."
Butland's latest setback has increased Stoke's need to sign another goalkeeper, with Lee Grant their preferred choice as he continues to impress while on loan from Derby.