Hodgson backs Foster for England return

Roy Hodgson is hoping West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster can be persuaded to change his mind about international retirement by the England hierarchy.

Celebrating the late, late goal...

Foster will go head to head with the current England number one Joe Hart in tonight's Barclays Premier League clash with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.

The 28-year-old opted to quit playing for his country 12 months ago because of some injury concerns but has been in sparkling form during a season-long loan at the Hawthorns from Birmingham.

Albion head coach Hodgson said: "Hart has established himself as England's number one and rightly so but the way Ben has been playing lately means I'm going to back my man.

"On a realistic note, the way Ben has played the last few weeks, he's got to be a major candidate for one of the three (England) goalkeeping positions.

"Of course he's got to be persuaded to come out of retirement. I would like to think a player of his ability, his age and enthusiasm, could be persuaded to come out of retirement.

"Both he and Hart are young men in goalkeeping terms. We see three other great goalkeepers in Brad Friedel, Mark Schwarzer and Shay Given, who are all approaching 40.

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"To have a good keeper in his late 20s is excellent."

Hodgson is careful not to make his thoughts known to Foster on ending his England exile.

He said: "It's not for me to talk to Ben about England. I like to take a very strong and personal interest in matters where the player and I have a common interest.

"I try to be less intrusive in areas where the player could quite happily turn around and say 'thanks very much but it's none of your business whether I play for the national team or not'.

"But, if ever he came to me and asked for my advice, I'd be happy to give it."

Hodgson is calling for a strong finish to the campaign from Albion after making sure of survival via Saturday's 3-0 home win over Blackburn.

He said: "We are effectively safe if not mathematically. There are six matches left to play and we are anxious to do well in those matches.

"We are not in a relaxed frame of mind at all."

Skipper and midfielder Chris Brunt and left-back Liam Ridgewell have both been ruled out of the City clash with knee problems. Paul Scharner and Nicky Shorey will be in contention to replace the duo.

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