McLeish signs up 'ambitious' Foster

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The Independent Football

Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish hopes Ben Foster can resurrect his career with a fresh start at St Andrews after signing the goalkeeper from Manchester United. The England international has agreed a three-year contract after moving for an undisclosed fee, reported to be £6m.

McLeish admitted Foster presented a better option than up to a dozen foreign goalkeepers, who he admitted were "a risk". Foster has been brought in to replace Joe Hart, who excelled in a season-long loan spell from Manchester City but was unlikely to return for the new campaign. The 27-year-old found opportunities at Old Trafford limited and fell down the pecking order behind Edwin van der Sar and Tomasz Kuszczak after a number of unconvincing displays.

He made just nine Premier League starts and his last first-team appearance came on 23 February against West Ham. "It looks as if we've got another great acquisition with Ben Foster," said McLeish. "The goalkeeper is a massive position and we've now signed another young, hungry goalkeeper who wants to prove himself and live up to his potential. We believe he is of the same kind of standard as Joe Hart.

"Ben's situation is similar to Joe's in that he found himself twiddling his thumbs behind another top keeper in Van der Sar. Goalkeepers can go on forever so that one was a losing battle for Ben. Ben is ambitious and wants to play regular football and naturally doesn't want to play second fiddle."

McLeish said Birmingham's goalkeeping coach Dave Watson had highlighted Foster as a good replacement for Hart some time ago. "We were looking at it even when Joe was here in the event that we wouldn't be caught short and to steal a march on other potential suitors," the manager said.

"There were another 10 or 12 foreign goalkeepers we looked at but didn't know enough about them and we didn't want to take a risk. But Dave Watson is a guy I trust and have given responsibility to and he did his homework on Ben.

"He knows everything about him, although ultimately it's my decision to choose the players and the goalkeeper."