CELTIC goalkeeper Fraser Forster was “thrilled” with his first England call-up after previously trying to put speculation over his international prospects out of his mind.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon has long touted the former Newcastle player for an England chance and the 24-year-old was yesterday named in Roy Hodgson’s squad to face San Marino and Poland in forthcoming World Cup qualifiers. Forster, who spent two seasons on loan at Celtic Park before completing a permanent transfer this summer, had been focused on improving his game with goalkeeping coach Stevie Woods and he feels his hard work has paid off.
Forster told Celtic’s website: “I’m obviously delighted and happy to get the call-up. I’m excited as well and just looking forward to meeting up with everyone really. It’s a great opportunity and a great chance to test myself against some great players.
“I got a call from the gaffer yesterday to let me know he thought it was going to happen and then I found out for definite today so I’m thrilled. I spoke to my parents last night to let them know, and they were obviously delighted as well.
“Other people have obviously talked about it but I just got it out my head and have been working hard with Woodsy and trying to improve.
“I think it’s recognition for the work we’ve put in and our performances, so I was delighted to get it and it is another incentive to keep pushing on and working hard.” Forster, who joins Joe Hart and John Ruddy in the squad, added: “It’s something I’ve aimed for and worked towards and I’m just delighted to get the call-up. It probably won’t sink in until I have been there and done it though.”
Meanwhile, Hodgson has apologised to Rio Ferdinand for the clumsy manner he dealt with the Manchester United defender’s omission from the latest England squad.
Ferdinand learned he was not going to be selected yesterday after Hodgson made some rather loose comments to a fellow passenger on the Tube heading to Arsenal’s Champions League clash with Olympiakos at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night.
“I have tried to get in touch with Rio today,” said Hodgson. “I am disappointed that a stray conversation has been reported in that way. I didn’t say Rio’s career was over. I might have admitted, foolishly I guess, and I only have myself to blame, that I wasn’t going to choose him in this squad.
“I am just disappointed this could be seen as a lack of respect to Rio, which is something I’d shy away from. I have the utmost respect for him, as a person and a player.”
England squad: Hart (Manchester City), Ruddy (Norwich), Forster (Celtic); Baines (Everton), Cahill (Chelsea), Cole (Chelsea), Gibbs (Arsenal), Jagielka (Everton), G Johnson (Liverpool), Lescott (Manchester City), Shawcross (Stoke), Walker (Tottenham); Carrick (Manchester United), Cleverley (Manchester United), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Gerrard (Liverpool), A Johnson (Sunderland), Lennon (Tottenham), Lampard (Chelsea), Milner (Manchester City), Walcott (Arsenal); Carroll (West Ham, on loan from Liverpool), Defoe (Tottenham), Rooney (Manchester United), Welbeck (Manchester United).