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Fraser Forster fears for England World Cup hopes

Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster is confident of securing a World Cup squad place for England. Picture: SNS

Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster is confident of securing a World Cup squad place for England. Picture: SNS

  • by STEPHEN HALLIDAY
 

FRASER Forster admits he’ll have to wait to see whether Celtic’s elimination from European football will have an impact on his chances of playing for England at the World Cup.

The Celtic goalkeeper says he may be willing to stay with the Scottish champions for the rest of the season, despite the disappointment of their 3-0 home defeat to AC Milan on Tuesday night, which denies them involvement in either the Champions League or Europa League after the turn of the year. But Forster, whose performances on the continental stage for Celtic over the past two years were instrumental in earning him full international recognition for England, also believes he needs time to assess whether being restricted to Scottish domestic football will harm his prospects of being in Roy Hodgson’s squad for the World Cup finals in Brazil next summer.

“I don’t know how damaging it is to be out of the European environment,” said Forster. “I’ll have to wait and see, really.

The World Cup is still seven months away.”

The 25-year-old earned his first cap for England earlier this month in the 2-0 friendly defeat against Chile at Wembley.

With ongoing uncertainty over Joe Hart’s status as Manchester City’s first0choice goalkeeper, England manager Hodgson is assessing his options for the position.

Forster faces competition for a berth in England’s final squad from Norwich City’s John Ruddy, who is playing regularly in the English Premier League, and West Bromwich Albion’s Ben Foster, who is closing in on a return from injury after reversing his decision to retire from international football earlier this year.

Under contract at Celtic until 2016, Forster has been linked with several big clubs in recent months. Portuguese giants Benfica expressed an interest during the last transfer window, while both Manchester United and Manchester City have been reported as potential suitors in January.

Forster has been a significant success at Celtic since manager Neil Lennon recruited him from Newcastle United three and a half years ago, initially on two season-long loan spells and then in a permanent £2 million signing during the summer of 2012.

The 6ft 7in goalkeeper has kept 79 clean sheets in 166 first-team appearances for Celtic so far and Lennon recently admitted his departure from the club could be imminent.

“It’s going to be impossible to keep Fraser, the way he’s playing,’ said Lennon. “Inevitably, I think a huge club will come in and make a huge bid for him.”

Celtic will turn their attention to their defence of the Scottish Cup this weekend, the holders facing Hearts at Tynecastle on Sunday in the pick of the fourth-round ties.

While he says he has yet to give his own situation any serious consideration, Forster is content to help Celtic maintain their domestic domination for the time being. “Yes, it’s a fantastic club and I don’t see that being a problem,” he said. “This club has been fantastic for me over the past three and a bit years. We are only just literally out of the Champions League. But this is a huge club and I’ve loved every minute of being here since I first walked through the door. The gaffer, goalkeeping coach Stevie Woods, sports scientist Bill Styles, they have all been fantastic for me. They’ve really brought my game on.

“There’s lots of football still to be played. I’m just looking forward to doing well in the league and seeing what happens. It’s just one of them where you want to do as well as you can and, if it’s not enough [to get in the England squad], then it’s not enough. I haven’t really given it any thought yet, to be honest. It’s obviously very disappointing to be out of the Champions League but it’s just a case of doing well for Celtic now and then I will have to see what happens. The World Cup is still a long, long way away and there’s plenty of club football to be played between now and then.

“I haven’t given a lot of thought to being out of Europe because I’ve spent the build-up to AC Milan looking forward to the game and hoping we would come through. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened but now I need to wait and see and keep playing well for Celtic.

“It’s a fantastic club to play for and I’ll take it one game at a time and not worry about the World Cup yet.”

 

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