Ferguson puts Foster in at deep end

Sir Alex Ferguson was a man in a hurry yesterday, keen to leave Manchester for Cheltenham before much of the morning was out. But he admitted before doing so that sending Ben Foster out for his full debut at Derby today represented a serious punt. "In terms of the match side of it obviously we don't know [how he will fare]... because he has only had one reserve game," said Ferguson. "But he has so many assets that I am confident about it."

The 24-year-old, who only returned for United's reserves last week after 10 months out with knee ligament damage, is thrust into the fray after his side's disastrous afternoon against Portsmouth saw Edwin van der Sar aggravate a groin strain and Tomasz Kuszczak receive a one-match ban after his sending off. That leaves United with Foster, a player considerably more familiar with Derby's plight after his heroics on loan at Watford last season than the sight of Ferdinand, Vidic & Co in front of him.

Ferguson, who had been all set to send the £1m acquisition from Stoke out on loan to Coventry – with several Championship clubs and one from League One interested, has already served a reminder to Fabio Capello of Foster's ability and he considers him potentially England's best. "Everyone recognises that he is potentially the top goalkeeper England have available," Ferguson said. "I think he is above them all. He's been back here [from Watford] for a long time of course – he had his operation last June. But his rehabilitation went right, we did all the right things, and he has come through very well."

Derby, recovering from the midweek panning at Stamford Bridge, hardly present a formidable test for Foster and United's comparatively poor record against them (14 wins from 51 games compared with Derby's 19) is surely an irrelevance. But the prospect of moving ahead of Arsenal again, should they win today and again at home to Bolton on Wednesday, provides an added incentive f or United.

"The important thing is to get consistency to make sure that we don't drop from a good level because with 10 games left it is going to be about consistency," said Ferguson, who hopes to have Louis Saha involved in some capacity despite the Frenchman sustaining yet another warm-up injury last weekend. "When you look at our programme we've got a tough programme. But then I look at Arsenal's and Chelsea's and it is equally tough. It is not going to be easy. It is going to be very, very close this season – it could even go to the last game."

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine