Jack Butland's Rangers efficiency underlined by telling stats as England call-up comes ever closer

Ibrox stopper proved his worth once more during the narrow victory against Kilmarnock

That Jack Butland has conceded the fewest goals and compiled the most clean sheets in the Premiership this season shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

Similarly, the fact that only Celtic’s Joe Hart has faced fewer shots on target among first-choice goalkeepers. Nothing particularly startling in that revelation. Instead, it is how many of those shots that Butland saves that might ultimately prove the difference in this season’s nip-and-tuck title race.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

According to the statistics database FBref.com, the former – and soon to be future – England keeper has seen 65 attempts launched at his goal and repelled 52 of them, equating to an 81.5 per cent save ratio, another league-leading record among the division’s regulars custodians. By way of comparison, Will Dennis, Zander Clark and Dimitar Mitov are all around the 75 per cent mark, with Hart’s success rate 69 per cent.

Jack Butland was solid once again for Rangers against Kilmarnock.Jack Butland was solid once again for Rangers against Kilmarnock.
Jack Butland was solid once again for Rangers against Kilmarnock.

Butland, then, isn’t as busy as other goalkeepers but is more efficient as Kilmarnock found to their cost on Wednesday night. Had Matty Kennedy’s point-blank shot found the net to put his side two goals ahead early in the second half then Rangers may have struggled to come back. Butland, though, showed cat-like reactions to dive to push the effort away and within 10 minutes Rangers had scored twice to move into a match-winning position. Michael Beale’s Ibrox tenure won’t ever be recalled fondly by Rangers supporters but the former manager’s influence in persuading his countryman to move north last summer must go in his favour, even if modesty prevents Butland from blowing his own trumpet too noisily.

“You just try not to give up the goal,” he said of the Kennedy save. “You just try to get to the middle of your goal and keep your eye on the ball the best you can. He put a good contact on it but it was at a nice distance for me. I wasn’t quite at full stretch but, for me, it’s about putting myself in those positions. That’s what you train for. You don’t go trying to chase after things, you just wait for things to come to you and fortunately I was in the right position to make that save. At this stage of the season it’s about moments. And a moment like that knocks the wind out of their sails, I guess, and gives us a bit of a lifeline. It would have been really difficult from there had that gone in.”

Kilmarnock have been notoriously difficult to beat this year, especially at home, a fact that was not lost on Butland. “Games like that do a lot for our confidence,” he added. “They galvanise you a little bit more when it’s a tough place to play but you get the desired result. And at this stage of the season, the business end, it’s about nothing more than getting the results. It certainly feels sweeter when you have to come from behind.”

If timing is everything then Butland’s couldn’t be better as he looks to land an England recall right ahead of the European Championships. “I’m in a great place, I’m loving my football, and loving how I’m doing and how I’m playing. I’m loving the general feel of everything here at Rangers. And it would be the icing on the cake if I could get back in there with England.”