Clarke ‘delighted’ for Foster

Motherwell pair Shaun Hutchinson and Chris Humphrey are

available for the Scottish Premier League clash with Hibernian on

Friday night.

Defender Hutchinson was suspended for the goalless draw with

Aberdeen last weekend, while midfielder Humphrey missed the

Pittodrie clash out with a knock.

Manager Stuart McCall will again be without defender Fraser Kerr

as his team look to consolidate second place in the table with a

win.

Hibernian team news to follow …

The Baggies goalkeeper recently made himself available for

selection for the Three Lions having withdrawn from contention two

years ago.

Foster had found himself restricted to the fringes of the squad

before citing injury complications and family reasons for his

decision to drop out after the 29-year-old had earned five

caps.

However, with his fitness and form stronger than ever, Foster is

back in the picture and was today recalled by Roy Hodgson for

England’s forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and

Montenegro.

“We’re all delighted for Ben,” said Clarke. “He obviously made

himself available for selection and he explained his reasons for

pulling out initially.

“It’s good. I like my players to be involved for their countries

because I think it’s a great honour. It was a disappointment for me

that I only got to represent Scotland six times at senior level. So

for the players who do get selected to play for their country, it’s

great.

“I’m sure he’ll do well.”

Foster missed several games earlier this season with a niggling

groin injury but is currently in fine form having taken his time to

recover.

“We think, touch wood, that Ben is in a good place physically

now,” said Clarke, who succeeded England coach Hodgson at The

Hawthorns last summer.

“He’s done a lot of work with the fitness and conditioning

staff. He obviously feels in a really good place fitness-wise and I

think that’s important.

“I think if he’d felt there were any fitness issues, he wouldn’t

have come back. So the fact he’s come back tells you he’s in a good

place physically.

“I think the fact he had two procedures earlier in the season –

which went on a little bit longer than they should have done and it

too him a bit longer to recover – it actually 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.”

Albion’s superb form in the first half of this season saw them

become realistic contenders for European qualification via the

Premier League heading into Christmas.

However, a dreadful run of results in January saw their hopes

fade and though their form has picked up recently to sit them in

eighth place with 43 points, the Europa League is now a distant

possibility.

The FA Cup draw last weekend means they must finish fifth to

qualify, needing to overhaul the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and

Everton.

“I did say there was no point us talking about European football

because the Europa League places would only come down to fifth in

the league and that’s what has unfolded,” Clarke said.

“There are too many ifs and buts. For us it’s just a matter of

building on the points total we’ve got and we’ve set the players a

little target of getting to 50. Hopefully we can reach that quickly

and still give ourselves a few games to get beyond that.

“I would love to be involved in European competition. I think

you have to be as ambitious as you can be.

“You want to be successful in every competition you enter. But

it’s also the case that if we can break 50 points that would also

be successful.”