Stoke City 0 West Brom 0 match report: England feelgood factor has returned thanks to Roy Hodgson, says goalkeeper Ben Foster
Keeper returns to the England set up this week
Monday 18 March 2013
Ben Foster knows he will never win universal approval for his decision to opt out and then back in to international football but insists his self-imposed exile was based on valid and honourable reasons.
The West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper, who kept a clean sheet against Stoke in Saturday's goalless draw, called time on his England career two years ago. He had concerns about his long-term career after twice undergoing surgery and there was a perception, too, that he had never fully convinced the then-manager Fabio Capello – who omitted him from his 2010 World Cup squad – of his ability at the highest level. Foster also wanted to spend more time with his two young children.
But Foster, 30 next month, announced last month he was available for selection again and will resume his England career as Joe Hart's back-up for the World Cup qualifiers in San Marino and Montenegro, having been recalled by his former Albion club manager, Roy Hodgson.
"Everyone is going to have their opinion," Foster said after an assured performance at Stoke helped Albion maintain their hopes of claiming a Europa League spot. "I don't mind that. If people criticise me for wanting to spend more time with my family rather than go away with England then that is fine. Football is second to my family without a doubt.
"The reason I retired in the first place was partly down to that that partly down to the little niggles I was experiencing at the time.
"Now everything seems to have cleared up and the kids have grown up a bit. When they were young I didn't want to be away for 10 days or two weeks and not see them but now they have full days at school so you're not really seeing them as much anyway.
"I also feel now that you don't want to regret something, which is one of those things that comes with age. My kids are a huge part of my life and it will be lovely to show them a few DVDs and caps when they are older.
"Of course, there is the World Cup next year and I would love to go there because I've not been to a major tournament so far in my career."
He admits that the chance to work again with Hodgson had been a major influence. "Having worked with Roy last season it was a no brainer," Foster said. "He's brought a lot to England, he's brought the feelgood factor back to the country.
"I spoke to Roy very briefly last week and he congratulated me. I said thank you to him. It's exciting times and I'm happy to be back."
Hodgson wants Foster to stiffen the competition for Hart, with Norwich's John Ruddy out with injury, Celtic's Fraser Forster untried at international level and Jack Butland central to Stuart Pearce's under-21s plans.
But the one-time Manchester United goalkeeper does not see himself threatening Hart's status as first choice. "Joe's a mate and a fantastic 'keeper, without doubt one of the best in the world," he said. "I've always said he could be England's No 1 for the next 10 to 15 years. With age and physical fitness on his side he could beat Peter Shilton's [125-match] appearance record.
"He has all the attributes, but I just want to be there in case anything happens to him. I'll happily step in then."
* West Bromwich's Peter Odemwingie, who came on after 67 minutes on Saturday, yesterday took to Twitter to again vent his fury at the club. The striker, who tried to force a move to Queen's Park Rangers on deadline day in January wrote: "Keeping me on the bench now is worst than what they did on the 31st," he wrote. "If they like they shouldn't even give me 10 mins to play. Threatening to ruin my career? Career I closed already last summer? No harm to me." Odemwingie has one season left on his contract
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