By Greg Stobart
West Ham have joined the race for Birmingham City goalkeeper Jack Butland as they look for a long-term No.1 to replace Jussi Jaaskelainen, Goal.com can reveal.
Sam Allardyce, the Hammers manager, brought Jaaskelainen to Upton Park during the summer from former club Bolton but the 37-year-old has looked past his best so far this season.
The Hammers are actively looking for a goalkeeper to replace the Finn and Butland is top of their wanted list amid competition from Liverpool and Manchester City, as revealed in The Sweeper on Saturday.
The 19-year-old has been tracked by a number of Premier League clubs, especially after his impressive performances for Team GB during London 2012, and will almost certainly be sold in the winter transfer window if Birmingham owner Carson Yeung fails to sell the Midlands club in time.
West Ham will look to challenge Liverpool and take advantage of the Blues' financial troubles with an offer in the region of £5 million (€6 million) for a player who was the subject of a £6m (€7m) bid from Southampton during the summer.
Allardyce believes that Butland has the potential to compete with Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart for the position as first choice in the England national team, making him the perfect option to replace Jaaskelainen.
West Ham are keen to keep the veteran around the club but would offer Butland a regular starting spot to convince the youngster that his career will be best served by moving to east London.
Jaaskelainen is considering retirement - with the Hammers holding an option to extend his contract by a further year when it expires next summer - and has been blamed for conceding some soft goals.
The veteran Finnish shot-stopper has played in all 15 of the east Londoners' league fixtures this campaign, conceding 17 goals and keeping five clean sheets.
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