Martin Thomas, England Under 21s goalkeeping coach has hailed the current crop of youngsters as the best in years.
Thomas has worked the likes of Joe Hart through the ranks on the international scene but believes the up and coming Jack Butland could be one of the brightest talents this country has ever produced.
He told thefa.com: “Jack is a bit younger than Jason, Ben and Dec, but with them all being part of the international scene then there’s been good continuity,” said former Welsh international Thomas.
“Jack is three years young for this group, but he’s had a lot of experience over the last 18 months. It’s been a meteoric rise, unbelievable for him, but every challenge that’s come his way he’s coped with exceptionally well.
“He’s become the youngest goalkeeper to play for the senior team and yet is still eligible for the next campaign for the Under-21s.”
He is also currently looking over Ben Amos, Jason Steele and Declan Rudd who could all feature for Stuart Pearce’s Young Lions in upcoming international matches.
All goalkeepers will be fighting for a place in Pearce’s squad for Euro 2013 this coming summer and Thomas is confident that they will give the former Manchester City manager a real selection headache.
“It is a good crop of goalkeepers in terms of both quality and quantity.
“All the goalkeepers that are currently involved with the Under-21s have been involved in international football since they were 15 years old.
“We were only having a discussion when we were in Serbia about the Victory Shield and the lads were saying how much they enjoyed playing in it.
“There’s obviously competition between them, but there is also the support as they have all come through the system together.
“This group now have all played a lot of games at club level and international level.”
Thomas insisted that the Football League is a huge step for young goalkeepers coming through the ranks.
“The Football League is littered with young goalkeepers getting experience of first team football,” he continued.
“The best part of around 65 goalkeepers, a majority who are English and under the age of 26, are playing in the Football League every week.
“All you hope is they can do well enough to take the next step and eventually work up to the Premier League.”
Read the full article and interview with Martin Thomas here on thefa.com.