ENGLAND manager Roy Hodgson has congratulated Fraser Forster on his record-breaking shut-out achievements at Celtic but has warned it will be “difficult” for the goalkeeper to earn a place in his World Cup finals squad this summer.
Forster set a new, all-time Scottish league clean sheet landmark in Celtic’s 2-0 win over Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday, beating the previous best of 1,155 minutes recorded by Aberdeen goalkeeper Bobby Clark back in 1970-71. He has currently gone 1,214 minutes without conceding a league goal.
The UK record of 1,311 minutes, set by Edwin van der Sar at Manchester United in 2008-09, is now in Forster’s sights as Premiership leaders Celtic look to extend their run of league shut-outs against Aberdeen at Pittodrie tonight.
Forster, who won his first England cap in a friendly against Chile last November, remains hopeful of securing a place as one of his country’s three ’keepers in Hodgson’s squad for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.
The England manager, speaking in Nice where he attended Sunday’s Euro 2016 qualifying draw, hinted that Manchester City’s Joe Hart and West Bromwich Albion’s Ben Foster will be his first two goalkeeping picks – leaving Forster in a battle with Norwich City’s John Ruddy and England under-21 international Jack Butland for the last spot.
“Joe Hart and Ben Foster are playing well for their teams, as is Fraser, John Ruddy at Norwich and young Jack Butland who is now on loan at Leeds United,” said Hodgson.
“We are not short of goalkeepers and it will be a difficult choice to make when I have to name my three goalkeepers for the World Cup.
“Joe Hart is in pole position because he has played in all the games. Before I start changing that, somebody will need to really work hard because Joe is a proven No 1 for England.
“For the two other positions, there is lots of competition and I will be looking on with great interest to see what happens between now and May when I have to name my squad for Brazil.
“I am really pleased for Fraser to have broken the Scottish clean sheet record. It is a great achievement and he deserves it because he has been playing very, very well. Celtic are also doing really well and they are sweeping everyone aside and that is good for Fraser.
“I am pleased for Fraser because it is a very important record and I think it will take some time before a record like that is beaten again.
“I certainly expect him to hold that particular record for several years to come. You can only congratulate him in what is a terrific achievement and a record, of course, that is still running.
“It would be another great achievement if he could beat Van der Sar’s record but, knowing Fraser and his manager Neil Lennon like I do, the most important thing for those two will not be individual plaudits but winning football matches for Celtic. I can’t imagine Neil Lennon playing eight or nine men in defence to help Fraser Forster get a shut-out record. Neil will be going out to win football matches and so Fraser will have a few challenges on his side to keep the clean sheets going.
“He is obviously good enough to break Edwin’s record and he also has good enough players in front of him to help him do it.”