JACK Butland says he will leave Leeds United next week with no regrets about his move to Elland Road, claiming an unforgiving loan has made him a more experienced and rounded goalkeeper.
Butland hopes the reality of “playing for a big club” will compensate for the torrid run of results which has chequered his record and weakened his chance of an appearance at this summer’s World Cup.
The England international, 21, came to Leeds in February with the belief that his performances at Elland Road might earn him a place as one of three goalkeepers in Roy Hodgson’s squad for the tournament in Brazil.
But nine defeats from 14 games, leading to the concession of 26 goals in all, has ruined his claim to a World Cup call-up and exposed him to the fallout of ownership and financial issues at Leeds.
Butland was signed as a temporary replacement for the injured Paddy Kenny and has kept his place despite Kenny’s recent return from an ankle problem.
United manager Brian McDermott is expected to field Butland in Leeds’ final two matches of the Championship season, with Butland due to return to parent club Stoke City after next weekend’s match against Derby County.
Butland said: “The spell has had a few ups and downs but what hasn’t changed is the experience I’m getting of playing for a big club.
“There’s a lot of expectation that comes with playing in front of big crowds. Yes it’s been tough and we haven’t picked up enough points but it’s taught me a lot and it will help me moving forward.”
Butland, who completed the first half of the season on loan at Barnsley, conceded five goals to Bolton Wanderers on his home debut for Leeds and shipped four in matches against Reading and Bournemouth.
Recent games against Blackpool and Barnsley brought victories and two welcome clean sheets, guaranteeing United’s status in the Championship, but the club were subjected to another demoralising afternoon on Monday, losing 2-0 to Nottingham Forest after conceding the opening goal in the second minute.
“We’ve been on a tough run and conceded a lot of goals,”
Butland said. “It was good to get a couple of clean sheets because we’d been at a stage where every mistake we made ended up in a goal.”