Norwich City goalkeeper John Ruddy edges closer to England start

John Ruddy's hopes of making his England debut in Wednesday's friendly against Italy increased dramatically last night when No 1 Joe Hart pulled out of the squad.

Hart and Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge have both been ruled out of the encounter in Berne with back and toe injuries respectively.

Manager Roy Hodgson has taken the unusual decision not to call-up any replacements, meaning Ruddy and Birmingham youngster Jack Butland are the only two goalkeepers left in his squad.

Neither man has ever won a senior cap, so at least one will make his debut against the Euro 2012 runners-up, with Ruddy a stong favourite to start.

For the Norwich City star, it would be a fitting end to a summer that started with him being forced to pull out of the tournament after breaking a finger on his first day of training.

Butland was then called up, even though the 19-year-old's only previous experience at senior level was in League Two for Cheltenham last season. Although Butland did not make an appearance in Poland and Ukraine, he made a big impression on the England coaching staff. He was also allowed to play for Great Britain during their Olympic campaign.

It was initially suggested Butland would only meet up this week to further his experience and would be released back to Birmingham ahead of their Capital One Cup clash with Barnet tomorrow. Instead, he will now travel straight to Switzerland.