Clarke: Foster's retirement U-turn a boost for England

The Baggies goalkeeper has opted to make himself available for international duty despite retiring two years ago and his manager reckons it is a huge plus for the Three Lions
West Brom manager Steve Clarke believes Ben Foster's international retirement u-turn has given England boss Roy Hodgson a "nice problem".

The 29-year-old goalkeeper has decided to end his two-year international exile and is in contention for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro in March.

Hodgson was in the stands to see Foster produce a fine display to limit Chelsea to a 1-0 win over the Baggies on Saturday and, after the game, Clarke praised his shot-stopper.

"For sure Ben is international class," Clarke told reporters. "He has already represented his country and proved that in the past.

"Now he is available for selection again, I'm sure he will prove that in the future.

"Ben is top class, has been great for us all season, is available for England and I'm sure that gives Roy a nice problem."

Foster has been in fine form for the Midlands club this term, but Clarke would not be drawn on comparing his goalkeeper with current England number one Joe Hart.

"It is all subjective," Clarke continued. "Ben has been great for us, his recent performances have been outstanding.

"I don't see Joe Hart week in and week out. [It’s not] For me to judge, it doesn't really matter what I think.
"What matters to me is Ben is my number one keeper and has been in great form recently."

A chronic back condition largely contributed to Foster's decision to retire, but Clarke reckons the former Manchester United keeper is over his injury problems.

"The problems he had two years ago are gone by and large. They are clear," he said.

"He's worked hard this year and diligently away from the games as well, doing extra training and has got himself in a great shape."