Sir Alex Ferguson is 100% certain Ben Foster will be England's World Cup keeper in South Africa next summer.
Foster has only played once for his country under Fabio Capello,coming on as a half-time substitute in the March friendly against Slovakia.
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The Manchester United keeper would almost certainly haveadded another couple of caps to his tally last month, only for a thumb operation to prevent him facing Kazakhstan and Andorra as replacement for David James, who had undergone shoulder surgery.
It is adepressingly familiar story for Foster, who spent his first two yearsas a United player on loan at Watford and had his third wrecked by acruciate injury.
Yet despite the catalogue of injury, Ferguson has never lost faith in the former Stoke man.
Hehas said often enough in the past that Foster will be England's numberone at some point in the future. Now he has gone one step further byclaiming the 26-year-old will oust James as Capello's first choicebefore the coming campaign is done.
"Ben Foster will be England's goalkeeper in South Africa, I have absolutely no doubts about that," he said.
"He is streets ahead of any other English goalkeeper.
"He has magnificent abilities. He is lightning quick, has excellent use of the ball and is exceedingly brave. He is a top drawer goalkeeper."
Ferguson does concede Foster needs his abysmal luck with injuries to end.
However, he has confirmed the Leamington Spa-born player, who is set to figure against Hangzhou Greentown in the final match of United's Far East tour tomorrow night after sitting out yesterday's victory over FC Seoul, will get enough chances to impress Capello.
"I have to keep an eye on him," admitted Ferguson.
"Ben has an opportunity with England, so I have to give him chances with us.
"I would not want to deny him the chance to play in South Africa so he will play a lot of games this season
"If he stays fit, he will be number one in South Africa. That is my prediction."
Ferguson is effectively confirming he intends to wind down Edwin van der Sar's career, even though the veteran Dutchman will start his final Old Trafford season as first-choice.
It is however bad news for Tomasz Kuszczak, who signed a contract extension last season but now seems set to play third fiddle under Ferguson.
"Tomasz deserves some recognition," he said.
"He has never complained and trains like a beast all the time.
"It is a very difficult situation because I need to get him minutes on the clock as well.
"Unfortunately Tomasz seems to have been bombed out by Poland for some reason.
"I don't understand why because I have to think about these things in terms of their careers."
If Ferguson is fairly clear about his intentions at one end of the field, the picture at the other has been clouded somewhat by the excellent form of Federico Macheda on tour, plus the contribution of new boy Michael Owen.
England's fourth highest goalscorer was a surprise capture for a club reeling at the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez from their title-winning squad.
At first, most United fans were seriously underwhelmed by the signing. However, with two goals in three games on the Red Devils' Far East tour so far, Owen has hit the ground running and looks fitter and fresher than at any stage during four seasons at Newcastle.
Ferguson does intend paying some heed to Owen's past fitness record.
But the Scot still expects Owen to figure in 25 games this term. And providing he reaches that figure, Ferguson sees no reason why his new forward should fail to hit the 15-goal mark.
"Michael has scored two already and I hope there are plenty more to come," said the Red Devils chief.
"If you look at his record over the years, even the last two years at Newcastle when they were going through a difficult time, he scored one in every two games.
"He is easily capable of reaching that level again.
"If he plays 25 games for me this season I think we'll get 15 goals."