England goalkeeper Jack Butland could face a battle to get back into the Stoke City team on his return from injury, says manager Mark Hughes.
Butland, 23, hasn’t featured for the Potters since suffering a fractured ankle during England’s 3-2 friendly win over Germany in March.
Derby loanee Lee Grant has impressed in his absence, having conceded only four goals during a six-match unbeaten run.
“It’s going to be difficult because Lee has been fantastic,” said Hughes.
“He understood the circumstances that he was coming into, but he has stood up to the challenge and has exceeded everybody’s expectations.”
Stoke have lost only one match since former Burnley keeper Grant has been in the side and are keen to extend his loan deal, which is due to end in January.
Hughes added: “First and foremost, we need to get [Jack] fully fit and back to the level he was at last season. That is the only thing that we are thinking about.
“He isn’t fully up to speed yet but we are hopeful that if he has a good week next week then he will be back within the senior group.”