Sunday 21 January 2018

Ben Foster back to challenge Joe Hart to be England’s No 1, says Steve Clarke

John Curtis

West Brom head coach Steve Clarke believes England counterpart Roy Hodgson faces "a nice problem" now that goalkeeper Ben Foster is back available to represent his country.

Clarke has hailed Foster as "international class" and the 29-year-old produced another fine display in front of Hodgson during Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Chelsea.

Foster has ended his two-year international exile and could be recalled for the World Cup qualifiers in San Marino and Montenegro later this month.

Clarke said: "For sure Ben is international class. He has already represented his country and proved that in the past.

"Now he is available for selection again, I'm sure he will prove that in the future.

"Ben is top class, has been great for us all season, is available for England and I'm sure that gives Roy a nice problem."

Clarke refuses to be drawn into the debate as to whether Foster is on a par with current England number one Joe Hart.

He said: "It is all subjective. Ben has been great for us, his recent performances have been outstanding.

"I don't see Joe Hart week in and week out. For me to judge, it doesn't really matter what I think.

"What matters to me is Ben is my number one keeper and has been in great form recently."

Clarke believes Foster is in better shape physically than two years ago - one of the reasons why he opted out of playing for his country after a chronic back complaint.

He added: "The problems he had two years ago are gone by and large. They are clear.

"He's worked hard this year and diligently away from the games as well, doing extra training and has got himself in a great shape."

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