DEAN Kiely admits Ben Foster may need to be at his ‘breath-taking’ best – as he urged Albion to put the ‘blinkers’ on against Manchester City tomorrow (ko 8pm).
The Baggies goalkeeping coach was at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night as survival rivals Sunderland dented City’s title-hopes in a 2-2 draw.
And with the world of football set to tune in to see if Manuel Pellegrini’s side can get back on track he insists Pepe Mel’s men must focus solely on their own needs.
“I think as the season goes on you can get caught up in Man City need to win or Liverpool this – and they’re actual issues that have no real relevance to us,” said Kiely.
“We’re fully focused, blinkers on, for the situation we’re in and picking up points.
“I imagine people who don’t watch football or watch from afar, look at our fixtures and go ‘that’s a freebie and then you’ve got West Ham so you target that game’.
“I can honestly say that we’re formulating plans to pick up points from them all.
“And I think we’re picking up points at the stage of the season when we need to.”
Foster will be going head-to-head with his main rival for the England No.1 spot, Joe Hart, in the live TV encounter.
And Kiely reckons the Baggies custodian is in fine form to push the City stopper all the way at this summer’s World Cup.
“I think Ben is in great nick,” he insisted.
“I enjoy working with him.
“When Roy [Hodgson] left to go to the England set-up he phoned me and said he’d like Ben back in the England fold and spoke about a Joe Hart and Ben Foster scenario and that goalkeeping department being really, really strong.
“And I have to agree – I think they are two top, top goalkeepers at the top of their game.
“Ben is focussed and fully switched on to get this season done and finish it in a positive vein.”
He added: “Certainly after his foot injury earlier this season, it speaks volumes of Ben as a person that he put all his attention into what he eats, his gym work and swimming.
“All stuff he could do while being away from being a goalkeeper.
“He didn’t just sit on a bed and feel sorry for himself.
“He worked extremely hard and I think he is reaping the rewards and benefits.
“Ben is technically a very good goalkeeper because you need to be in the Premier League.
“He has a switch and a button that turns him into the player that produces.
“On a Saturday he flicks that switch and goes.
“He also has a great knack that he’s so quick about his goal, he makes unorthodox saves, which is also important.
“He just has this instinct to keep the ball out of the goal, which is a hell of an instinct to have.
“I’ve seen him make some incredible saves this season and a big contribution to us.
“He takes your breath away.
“Ben’s a match-winning goalkeeper.
“I would imagine, looking from afar, Joe has a different scenario in the fact you’re playing for a top, top side and concentration levels are different in that he might not have a lot to do but could be called upon to win a game for Man City.
“So his work probably won’t be as frequent, and I’m sure the stats will back up he won’t be making as many saves as Ben, but the ones he makes are at crucial times.
“There is a different flow to how you keep goal for Man City and how you do it for a team like West Brom.”