Belfast Telegraph

Hughes ponders Butland loan options

Stoke boss Mark Hughes is mulling over whether to send England goalkeeper Jack Butland back out on loan or keep him at the Britannia Stadium.

The highly-rated 20-year-old joined Stoke from Birmingham in January but was loaned straight back to the Championship club for the remainder of last season.

Potters number one Asmir Begovic had been linked with a move to one of the Premier League's big guns, but Liverpool opted for Sunderland's Simon Mignolet and interest in the Bosnian has subsided.

Butland will not want to spend the season warming the bench, but Hughes insists he will only go on loan if the right deal can be done.

The Welshman said: "Jack's an outstanding young keeper and it's about making sure he develops. If there's not the right opportunity, and we don't think it's advantageous to his development, then he won't go out, he'll stay with us."

Stoke were at Wrexham's Racecourse Stadium for a friendly against Hughes' home-town club and the visitors came away with a 1-0 victory, Jonathan Walters scoring the only goal six minutes after half-time.

Stoke only returned from their pre-season trip to the US on Thursday, and Hughes used 20 players in a combative encounter against the Conference side.

It was the Potters' third victory in a row after wins over FC Dallas and Philadelphia Union.

The latter was marred by an injury to winger Brek Shea, who damaged medial ligaments in his left knee.

Hughes was furious with the tackle on the United States international, who is likely to miss the first month of the season.

That is a shorter lay-off than was feared, and Hughes said: "He's got an injury that will keep him out for a number of weeks and he won't make the start of the season, but thankfully it's not as bad as we thought initially."

The Stoke boss, who took over from Tony Pulis in May, has been quiet in the transfer window, with defenders Erik Pieters and Marc Muniesa his only senior signings.

Hughes has been linked with a number of players, including Manchester City winger Scott Sinclair and American striker Juan Agudelo, and is hoping to do further business before the window shuts.

"It is something we need to look at in certain areas but sometimes it doesn't happen," said Hughes. "We'll do our best to make it happen if we think the right players are available."

Aston Villa were also victorious in their friendly against Shamrock Rovers in Dublin.

Andreas Weimann and Christian Benteke both scored in the first half in a 2-0 win, which saw Aleksandar Tonev and Jores Okore come through 45 minutes each following injury.


From Belfast Telegraph