Jack Butland draws on Euro play-off memories

Tuesday 14 Oct 2014
Butland played in the Euro play-offs in Serbia two years ago
England Under-21s’ Euro qualifying campaign will come to a crescendo in Croatia on Tuesday evening, as the Three Lions play-off for a spot in the last eight.

With a 2-1 lead from last week’s first leg on home turf, Gareth Southgate’s side will now face their hosts in Vinkovci knowing that if they avoid defeat then a place in next summer’s finals in Czech Republic will be theirs.

Croatia v England 

UEFA Euro U21 Championship
Play-off second leg
5pm (BST), Tuesday 14 October 2014
Stadion HNK Cibalia, Vinkovci
Live on BT Sport

But the pressure facing England is not a new experience for captain Jack Butland, who was part of the Under-21s team which beat Serbia at the same stage in the last campaign two years ago. 

The Stoke City goalkeeper and his team-mates took a one-goal advantage into the second leg on that occasion and emerged as 1-0 winners on the other side following a tense night in Krusevac.

And while Butland is not expecting Tuesday’s match to be in any way similar to that encounter off the field, he can see certain parallels on the pitch as England prepare for action.

"We had a one-goal margin that time and we’re in a similar part of the world," admitted the 20-year-old.

"It’s a very passionate area and they’ll be coming out and looking to put pressure on us.

"This is football at its best for us, this is where our challenge is at its toughest, it’s exciting and a good game to be part of.

"It’s the difference between going out now or staying in and going to the Finals next year so it’s a big game for us and all of the lads look focused and ready to go."

Goals from Harry Kane and top scorer Saido Berahino at Molineux last Friday gave England a slender lead ahead of the second leg.

Harry Kane bravely heads home the equaliser

Harry Kane scored England's equaliser in the first leg at Molineux

And after a successful group stage which saw the Three Lions win nine out of ten games and score 31 goals in the process, Butland sees no reason why they should not approach the match with confidence.

"We’ve got one foot through the door if you like, we’ve got one step up and we’ve got to use that to our advantage," he added.

"We won’t change the way we play, we’ll be positive and we’re not looking to preserve anything, we’re looking to play the way that we know we can and hopefully get the job done in good fashion and professionally.

"We’ve got brilliant pace, not just from up front but from wide areas with the full-backs.

"It will be a different scenario for them, they’re now down in the tie and have got to score to go through.

"So it’s an exciting time and if they do come at us, we’ve got to defend well and give ourselves options to break forward and maybe take opportunities on the counter attack.

"It’s shaping up well for a tough game."

Watch the full interview with Butland in the video player below

England Under-21s captain Jack Butland speaks about Tuesday's game in Vinkovci


By Nicholas Veevers Content Manager - FA Owned Channels in Vinkovci, Croatia