Johnstone and Butland keep England ticking

Born 14 days apart, England goalkeepers Samuel Johnstone and Jack Butland have both impressed in Liechtenstein and spoke to UEFA.com ahead of Thursday's semi-final with France.

Goalkeepers Samuel Johnstone (left) and Jack Butland
©Sportsfile

Not only have England won every game of their UEFA European Under-17 Championship campaign but it is clear their squad contains two goalkeepers more than worthy of this level. Manchester United FC's Samuel Johnstone, second choice in England's 2009 campaign in Germany, has the No1 shirt and began the first two wins. Then with a semi-final place secure, Birmingham City FC custodian Jack Butland – the elder by 14 days – came in against Turkey and played excellently in a 2-1 success, giving manager John Peacock a real choice for Thursday's semi-final with France. UEFA.com spoke to the pair ahead of that encounter.

UEFA.com: What is it like to work together?

Jack Butland: We get on well. In training we have a laugh, we play a few games. We always support each other. It's good competition as well. When you are at the club you don't always have that competition so when you get to a level like this and you find someone just as good as you, and you've got to fight for your position, it's always healthy competition. We have a good time as well.

Samuel Johnstone: There's not much to add to that! We always have a laugh, us two and the goalkeeping coach, and whoever gets picked for the game always has the support of the one on the bench.

UEFA.com: Out here your goalkeeping coach is former England international Joe Corrigan; how is it working with him?

Butland: It's been very good. We have had two goalkeeping coaches before, and Joe's come in so we're lucky to have the quality of goalkeeping coach we have. He's always got something to say and knowledge and little tips to give us.

Johnstone: In training he's always got something there to help us improve, little things we can change to get better. He helps us a lot with his experience.

UEFA.com: Was it good to get a game against Turkey, Jack?

Butland: If Sam plays, I'm going to support him, but I enjoyed playing obviously, I'm glad I got the chance. I'm really pleased, I wanted to come in and do the best I can for the squad and try and win it – I enjoyed it.

UEFA.com: Is your experience of being at last year's finals a help, Sam?

Johnstone: Of course. You know what to expect. It's the eight best teams for this age. We didn't do too well last year but I'm glad I had the experience, I got to play one game. All the lads help each other, whether they came last year or not, but it's good we have players with that experience.

UEFA.com: What do you know about France?

Johnstone: They are a good team. We drew with them in February but I think we have more talent and are more of a 'team' together than they are.

Butland: We know a few things about them, but it's not about them – if we prepare properly we know we have the talent in the whole squad to do the job. As long as we prepare right and focus on what we've got to do we're more than capable.

UEFA.com: Sam, are you looking forward to playing your United club-mate Paul Pogba?

Johnstone: He's a good player but we'll sort him out! I've not spoken to him since we broke up from the club so we'll see what he's got to say. He's strong, he's got good feet and he can hit a free-kick.

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