Football: Jack Butland set for long-awaited Stoke return ahead of Hull clash

ENGLAND (REUTERS) - Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland is close to ending a year-long injury nightmare when he declared himself fit for Saturday's Premier League clash against Hull City, after playing 90 minutes for the under-23 team earlier this week.

The 24-year-old, who suffered an ankle fracture playing for England against Germany in March last year, featured for the first time this season in the 0-2 defeat to Brighton.

Butland was scheduled to return at the start of the season, but further injury setbacks in August and December prolonged his absence.

"Yeah by far (hardest year of his career)," Butland told Sky Sports.

"I think recovering from the first operation wasn't that bad, it was the feeling like I was back, and then the day before the first game of the season it all kind of went pear-shaped.

"December onwards has been pretty smooth. It's all gone to plan as we would have hoped."

Should Butland start in the home match against Hull, it will be his first club appearance in 13 months, and against a side who have failed to win an away league game since August.