STEVE Clarke is delighted Ben Foster has today been called up by England for this month’s World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro.
The Baggies goalkeeper, who celebrates his 30th birthday in three weeks’ time, last played for his country in a 2-1 defeat by France in November 2010 before deciding to put his international ambitions on hold for family reasons and fitness issues.
But he has made himself available for selection again and is now looking to add to his five caps as he battles for the No.1 shirt with Joe Hart and Fraser Forster.
He will now again link up with former Baggies boss Roy Hodgson as England prepare to take on Group H bottom side San Marino at the Serravalle Stadium tomorrow week before travelling to Podgorica for a top-of-the-table clash with Montengero four days later (both ko 8pm BST).
“We’re all delighted for Ben,” said Clarke.
“I like my players to be involved with their countries.
“It’s a great honour.
“It’s something I’ve said before; it was a disappointment for me that I only got to represent Scotland at senior level six times.
“So, when the players get selected for their country it is a great honour.
“I’m sure he’ll do well.”
The Baggies boss added: “We think, touch wood and everything else you do that’s superstitious, that Ben is in a good place physically now.
“He’s done a lot of work with the fitness and conditioning staff and he obviously feels in a good place fitness-wise.
“I think if he felt there were any fitness issues he wouldn’t have come back.
“I think the fact he had those two hernia procedures earlier in the season seems to have freed him up a little bit and made him more comfortable in himself.
“That’s important, and I think you can see that in his recent performances.”
Hodgson, who worked with Foster for a season at The Hawthorns, said: “When you have a goalkeeper of Ben Foster’s stature, it’s a great pitty to have him not make himself available for selection for the England team.
“So we’re pleased, in our opinion, to have two excellent goalkeepers.
“Ben is playing very well for his club team at the moment and is in exceptional form.
“It’s just good that he’s decided, after a long absence from international football, that he wants to play again.”
FULL ENGLAND SQUAD:
Goalkeepers: BEN FOSTER, Joe Hart, Fraser Forster.
Defenders: Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Michael Dawson, Rio Ferdinand , Glen Johnson, Chris Smalling, Kyle Walker.
Midfielders: Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Aaron Lennon, James Milner, Leon Osman, Scott Parker , Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Ashley Young.
Forwards: Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Daniel Welbeck.