Stoke City boss Mark Hughes plans to adopt a cautious approach with Jack Butland as the goalkeeper edges ever closer to a first-team return.
The 23-year-old has been sidelined since March last year with an ankle problem that has required several operations, but he took to Twitter on Monday confirming that the latest bout of surgery has proved successful.
The England international is now hopeful of returning to the Potters’ first-team before the end of the campaign, but Hughes insists he will not rush the stopper back into action, admitting he may not make a competitive return until the start the next season.
“We’re pleased Jack’s at a point where we can look forward to him being available for selection. At that point, we’ll have a discussion,” Hughes told reporters.
“If there’s an option to maybe give Jack the opportunity to have games before the end of the season or think ‘let’s make sure he’s right for pre-season’, there’s any number of options.”
Lee Grant has acted as Stoke’s number one in Butland’s absence and he will stay between the sticks when the Potters travel to the Etihad Stadium to take on Manchester City on Wednesday.
Stoke have lost five of their last six top-flight matches away from home, and are priced at 13.00 to secure all three points against the Citizens, who are available at 1.22, while the draw is on offer at 6.50.