Clarke ‘delighted’ for Foster
Motherwell pair Shaun Hutchinson and Chris Humphrey are
available for the Scottish Premier League clash with Hibernian on
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
Hibernian team news to follow …
The Baggies goalkeeper recently made himself available for
selection for the Three Lions having withdrawn from contention two
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
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
“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
“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
“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
“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
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
The FA Cup draw last weekend means they must finish fifth to
qualify, needing to overhaul the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and
“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