Manager Nathan Jones has admitted he might have to take ‘unsettled’ goalkeeper Jack Butland out of the Stoke team following an error-strewn performance in the 3-1 loss to Preston.
Butland was at fault for Preston’s first two goals as he let low shots from outside the box squeeze past him. The shot-stopper looks set to miss out on Gareth Southgate’s England squad for upcoming games against Bulgaria and Kosovo.
Butland has also been linked with a move abroad before the European transfer window closes on September 2. Stoke were facing an uphill battle at Deepdale once Butland fumbled a shot from Daniel Johnson into the net in the seventh minute.
His misery was compounded when another straightforward effort from Billy Bodin squeezed under his body in the 25th minute. Stoke are bottom of the Championship with just one point from four games, leaving Jones facing the prospect of needing to take Butland out of the spotlight.
“We are travelling on the bus [to Preston] and there’s a big story about Jack being left out of the England squad, it’s all unsettling,” he told Sky Sports. “Maybe I need to put him out of the firing line and wait until the window shuts to get his head focused because all the stories are about what’s not happening to Jack rather than him being Stoke City goalkeeper.”
Jones, who has only won three league matches since he was appointed in February, knows Stoke cannot afford to keep giving opponents a head-start. “We keep shooting ourselves in the foot. It’s frustrating and things have to change. We have to be a bit more streetwise and not concede silly goals,” he added.
“We have had chances that were as good as, if not better, than them tonight, but it was never really a contest because of how we went about it.” Stoke are 7.50 to be relegated from the Championship this season.