Gary Bailey believes the Reds may regret selling Ben Foster in the long run. Foster joined United from Stoke City in summer 2005 and had to bide his time for a prolonged shot at the Reds' No1 jersey. When he was finally given his chance at the start of the season, while Edwin Van der Sar nursed a broken hand, the 27-year-old seemed unable to handle the pressure, making a number of costly high-profile mistakes. Despite Foster spending two years on loan at Watford earlier in his United career, Bailey - who made more than 300 appearances in goal for the Reds between 1978-1987 - believes United should loan out Foster again instead of looking to cash in by selling him to Birmingham, with a move set to go through for £6m. "I rate him he is a very good goalkeeper," Bailey said, who also kept goal for England. "I think he has been unlucky. The problem with United is you can't work your way up for a number of years like you could when I was there. I learned my trade while playing for United, these days you don't. Experience "You have to learn somewhere else and you arrive at United as the finished product and, what's more, you have to be the finished product with a certain amount of experience. "Outfield players can learn a little easily - the Federico Macheda's of this world are still stuck in the reserves because to be a starter you have to have experience. But as a goalkeeper, managers are looking for people who have played at the highest level. Therefore the only way you can see Foster staying at United is if he goes on loan and then comes back. "A loan would work best, because I would hate, from United's point of view, to lose him and then for him to become England's next No1 and United will look back and say: `Why did we let him go?' "I think you should treat him like Joe Hart has been treated - let him go out on loan at someone in the Premier League, gain enough experience and come back and say: `I am the complete deal now. I am ready to take over.' Bailey admits Foster has not been helped by the consistent displays of first choice shot-stopper Van der Sar who was recently rewarded with another one-year deal. "Ed has been brilliant," he enthused. "He has been the find of the last few years for United. He is so calm in defence and you have to feel sorry for Foster, who a year ago was England's first choice and Edwin comes back and poor Ben has disappeared into the background. "That is the tough part of being a goalkeeper. There is no coming off the bench and making an impact so for Ben it has been tough but I think Edwin is one of the best goalkeepers in the world today and that is a hell of a compliment to say that about someone who is nearly 40. "It's been a bit hit-and-miss for United. In previous seasons, if Wayne Rooney
wasn't playing well Cristiano Ronaldo was frightening the living daylights out of teams and if he wasn't playing well then Carlos Tevez would be chasing and hounding and between the three of them they were absolutely unbelievable. "Unfortunately, Dimitar Berbatov didn't quite come to the party. He has got the ability but he didn't quite gel and I think that is the problem. We didn't have someone alongside Wayne with that calibre so hopefully this summer break Fergie can sort that out." While United may have relied too much on Rooney towards the end of the season Bailey insists the same cannot be said of England. "Other England players can hurt the opposition," he pointed out. "You have Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard who are both different class and you have Peter Crouch who is an impact player, Aaron Lennon is another and Ashley Cole down the left is superb. "I think it is a wonderful England team but the only question mark is the goalkeeper and who is going to be given that vote of confidence. I don't think the goalkeeper will have that much to do but I think that the team are as good as any and really it is about building belief and if they get a good opening result they can go all the way. "You still need luck and you need all the players to perform but England have as good a squad as I have seen for a long time."