The Andy Cole Column: Foster's England dream will delight The Boss

Fired Up! Foster is well within his rights to think about a loan, and I bet Fergie loves that attitude

England's so-called goalkeeper crisis is no such thing. Most nations would be delighted to have three options who measure up to Ben Foster, David James and Robert Green. But on the vexed issue of whether Foster can expect to be picked when he is not the No 1 choice at Manchester United, I'd have to agree that he's on shaky ground, so he's well within his rights to be thinking about a loan or a move. And I'd bet, sincerely, that Sir Alex Ferguson loves that attitude too.

I haven't specifically talked to Foster or Sir Alex about the issue, but I do know from years of experience that The Boss is always delighted to have players who are hungry to play. He'll relish that desire in Foster to be the primary choice. He might even see the sense in letting him go on loan, to get the games that are perceived to be his passport to South Africa.

From everything we have seen during Fabio Capello's reign, he only wants players who are getting regular club football at the highest level. In that respect he has turned back the clock. Certainly, when I was in England contention, players needed to be performing for their clubs to get in the team. Then that changed for a while, when reputation appeared to be sufficient to make it. And now it is back to having to earn your place on a squad-by-squad basis, which is as it should be.

Foster's need to play regular football is therefore both natural and positive and I expect him to find some solution that works. If he went on loan he could thrive as he did before and still return to United, the biggest club anyone can wish for.

On England's other goalkeepers, David "Jamo" James has been a top custodian for years. Like all keepers, he suffers when he makes his inevitable mistakes because goalkeepers' errors are so easy to pick out in a way other players' are not. But he makes tremendous saves. In Foster, Jamo and Green, we have three goalkeepers who I expect to serve us well in South Africa.

I fully intended to watch England's litmus test against Brazil, a game that was supposed to show how they could fare if the sides meet next summer. I sat down in front of the TV and switched it on. Then, I'm almost embarrassed to say, I fell asleep before kick-off and woke up after the final whistle! I was out late on Friday for a few drinks with some pals and at my age (38), a late night takes more recovery time than it used to. I was knackered.

From what some others have said, the game sounded like it was a bit of a sleep-inducer anyway. I think it was partly because England were a shadow of the team they would have been with every first-pick player available.

On the subject of English football, I've filed this week's column from Vietnam, where I'll be playing in a Masters event (my first) this evening. As I mentioned last week, I'm out here in the Far East for some events involving former Manchester United and Liverpool players. We travelled out first to Kuala Lumpur for a couple of days, then we arrived here in Hanoi yesterday. Then it is back to KL for one more game then back home next week.

I was utterly overwhelmed by the reception we got on arrival at Hanoi Airport. I had no idea anyone in this country would even know who I was but we've been mobbed. There were hundreds of people in United and Liverpool shirts at the airport alone. It was like being back on tour in the United days of Beckham.

English football is just so popular in Asia, it's amazing, and humbling.

Lesson in success from a schoolboy

I was on 'A Question of Sport' last Friday. I filmed it a few weeks ago but didn't mention it earlier for fear I would inadvertently let slip who won (Phil Tufnell's team of Phil, diver Tom Daley and me) and who scored the winning point (modesty prevents me, but let's say it's always nice to score the winner!).

Everyone knows Tuffers is a laugh. I'd never met Tom before and he was a quiet boy. He was telling us how he had his GCSEs coming up, which emphasised for me the scale of his achievements already. He's already been to an Olympics and he's the senior world diving champion and he's still not old enough to have taken his exams!

The fee for Andy Cole's column is donated to Alder Hey hospital and sickle cell anaemia research. Cole works on charitable projects with the sport and media team at law firm Thomas Eggar

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