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Foster hopes rocked

11 Aug 2009 08:37:08

Foster hopes rocked

Ben Foster's hopes of proving himself No 1 for club and country have taken a blow after the United goalkeeper was forced to withdraw from the England squad. He is out of the friendly with Holland tomorrow night with what was described as a "minor injury". But it is a setback for the 26-year-old, who has made an inauspicious start to the most important season of his career. Foster hopes to go to next summer's World Cup as England coach Fabio Capello's first choice between the sticks. But after a Wembley horror show in the Community Shield and now fresh injury concerns, the jury is out as to whether he truly has the credentials to live up to the praise heaped upon him by Sir Alex Ferguson. He was replaced in Capello's squad by City keeper Joe Hart, currently on loan at Birmingham. Ferguson has described Foster as the future for both club and country - and this is the season that he is expected to establish himself at Old Trafford as well as on the international stage. He has had to bide his time as Edwin van der Sar's understudy, spending two seasons on loan at Watford, while a series of injuries have hindered his progress. It is debatable whether he would have forced his way past Van der Sar before now but cruciate knee-ligament surgery and an ankle injury have not helped his cause. But he has been handed his best chance yet to push past the Dutch veteran, who is out for 10 weeks with a broken hand. Repercussions It remains to be seen if Foster's latest injury scare will have further repercussions on his United career. Should it be serious enough to rule him out of the opening game of the season against Birmingham on Sunday, it could see Tomasz Kuszczak seize the initiative in the race to become United No1. Ferguson admitted he faced a tough decision over who to start the season with in the absence of Van der Sar, opting to give Foster the nod in the Community Shield. It was an underwhelming start to his campaign to go to the World Cup to say the least, with Foster culpable for both Chelsea goals in the 2-2 draw that United went on to lose in a penalty shootout. Afterwards, Ferguson was mildly critical of his keeper, while also taking some of the blame for not preparing him well enough during pre-season. "This is his first big challenge and he's waited a long time," said the United manager. "In pre-season I spread the load between Edwin van der Sar, Ben and Tomasz Kuszczak and maybe he hasn't had enough minutes. "The important thing is I know his ability and knowing that I know I have no worries about him." Foster has made just two friendly appearances for England, making his debut in 2007 against Spain and returning two years later against Slovakia in March. Admire Capello is a known admirer of him, selecting him on the strength of his man-of-the-match display in United's Carling Cup final victory over Tottenham last season. Foster's withdrawal leaves Hart, Paul Robinson and Robert Green as England's goalkeepers. Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney is convinced Michael Owen will soon force his way back on to the international scene now that he is at United. Owen was snubbed by Capello for his first squad of the new season but Rooney believes it is only a matter of time before he is back. "I do see Michael getting back into the England side," he said. "Obviously it is the manager's decision but he has looked really sharp in pre-season and I am sure if he maintains that form, it won't be long before he is back in the squad." England are looking for a first win in Holland since 1969. "It does feel a bit strange to have an international right before the league season has started, although to be honest I would prefer it to be now," said Rooney. "Holland will be a difficult game. They have been in great form and have already qualified for the World Cup. "But we are looking to get the momentum back from last season so hopefully we can get a positive result."


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