Clemence issues warning for Foster

Ray Clemence has warned Ben Foster he must be playing regularly this season to be considered part of Fabio Capello's World Cup plans.

The Manchester United stopper only has two England caps to his name but has been tipped by club manager Sir Alex Ferguson to claim the England number one jersey for next year's World Cup in South Africa.

David James has been Capello's number one choice since the Italian took over in 2007 but doubts remain over the Portsmouth stopper's consistency.

He will also be 40 years old by next year's tournament and Ferguson last week backed Foster, 13 years James' junior, to become England's number one despite his relative inexperience at United and at international level.

Clemence, who is Capello's goalkeeping coach, believes, however, Foster must seriously challenge United number one Edwin Van der Sar to put himself in contention for a place in the World Cup squad.

Clemence said: "To play international football you need to be playing games on a regular basis and that is his target this year: to get the opportunity to play consistently in the team.

"Then what he has to do is take that opportunity and say, 'Sorry Edwin, you're not having your place back'."

Foster, who has played only 10 times for the Red Devils, signed a new four-year contract at Old Trafford this summer.

Clemence believes Ferguson must have given Foster some assurances he will play more this season for the former Stoke player to have agreed to stay at the Premier League champions.

"Ben knows to be part of a squad he knows he has to be playing a lot more football than he was playing last year," Clemence, who has 61 England caps, said.

"I'm sure that within those discussions for that new deal there will have been discussions about him getting an opportunity or more opportunities in the United side and, of course, if he does get an opportunity then he has to take it and he has to perform."

Foster endured a frustrating year last term with a number of injuries denying him the chance to stake a claim for a starting place for both club and country.

When James opted to have surgery on his knee and shoulder at the end of last season, Foster was unable to step into the void as he was recovering from a thumb injury.

Clemence says Foster has been working hard to make sure he stays clear of injury, although he admits the Leamington Spa-born stopper will have a tough task on his hands to displace James in the England goal.

"There is no doubt that Ben has got an incredible potential," continued Clemence, who was speaking at the launch of this year's Nationwide Football Annual.

"Last year he was blighted by a number of injuries, though, which stopped his development.

"But I know he's spent a lot of the close season coming in earlier than everyone else and has done work while everyone else has been holidaying.

"The one thing I'll say about David (James), though, is that he is probably as fit a goalkeeper as there is.

"He is the best physical specimen as a keeper we have seen around in a long time.

"Robert Green played well filling in for him and then we have the likes of Joe Hart, and Scott Carson as well.

"They'll all be pushing to get back into the squad so it's a healthier state of affairs in terms of English keepers playing in the Premier League this year."

Source: Team Talk
Date Published: 30 July 2009