Peter Shilton believes Sir Alex Ferguson must allow Ben Foster to go out on loan if the goalkeeper is to play for England in the World Cup.
An injury to Edwin van der Sar allowed the England stopper to begin the season as Manchester United‘s number one.
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A string of shaky performances, and the Dutchman’s return from the treatment table, has caused the 26-year-old to slip back down the pecking order at Old Trafford.
After starting in England’s 1-0 win over Brazil, Foster admitted he had become “very disheartened” with life at the club.
He had to settle for a place on the bench in United’s League Cup win over Tottenham Hotspur, effectively confirming his status as Ferguson’s third choice behind Tomasz Kuszczak.
Shilton believes Foster’s chances of earning a place in Fabio Capello’s World Cup squad rest on Ferguson allowing the former Stoke keeper out on loan.
“I think it is in the interest of both parties to let him out on loan,” Shilton said.
“Ben Foster is very keen to be part of that World Cup squad and even be England’s number one at the competition, that’s every player’s dream.
“I think if he was sat in the reserves for a long time it would be very demoralising so hopefully common sense will prevail and Sir Alex will let him out.
“He would always have the opportunity to recall him if there’s any major issues or injuries.”
Foster has been a regular fixture in Capello’s squad since his return from a thumb injury.
Capello has even dispensed with his policy that all his players must be regulars for their teams to allow Foster a place in the squad.
Foster has experience of playing regularly in the Premier League after spending the 2006-07 on loan at Watford, where he was first choice.
Shilton, England’s record cap holder with 127, thinks Foster will be in demand when the January transfer window opens.
“Obviously, he has the ability to be playing regularly in the Premier League so from his point of view, and Man United’s point of view, he needs to be playing regularly at some point. Hopefully that will happen,” said Shilton.
Shilton was a regular starter throughout the majority of his 20-year international career and represented England at three World Cups.
Capello has struggled to identify a first choice keeper, with Robert Green, David James, and Foster all appearing between the posts during the Italian’s tenure.
Shilton believes Capello must work out who is first-choice keeper is and find a regular strike partner for Wayne Rooney if England are to fare well in South Africa.
“There’s a bit of uncertainty there with the injury to David James and Foster and Green are a bit inexperienced,” Shilton said.
“We haven’t got an Alan Shearer type who you can rely on to score goals either.
“If we can get those two positions sorted out then I think we can go there with great confidence.”