Fraser Forster England call-up is well deserved

By Lee Ryder on Oct 4, 12 11:09 AM

It was 100 degrees, I was in the middle of a national park in Kansas and suddenly the sunlight in my path was blocked out.

From contemplating an ice cold drink to cool myself down, I was confronted by the imposing frame of 6ft 7in goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

Wind the clock back to July 2011 and Newcastle United players are working hard in the scorching conditions of Missouri ahead of pre-season.


The Magpies always seemed to have been blessed in the last decade when it comes to goalkeepers.

And with Steve Harper, Tim Krul and Forster all available to Alan Pardew, the Toon boss had a tough decision to make.

Forster at 23 believed that he was ready to play first team football.

He'd already done well at Celtic in the previous season and had success on loan at Norwich City, Bristol Rovers and Stockport.

Having been one of the few hacks to have seen him grow from Academy to reserve team level to first team contention, it was obvious from the start that Forster had something to offer.

His size makes centre-forwards think twice when going in for a 50-50 ball and the big guy is an excellent shot-stopper.

It was obvious he was ready to do a job for somebody.

At any other club he would have walked into the starting line-up and been a regular fixture for years to come.

At Newcastle he had both Harper and Krul ahead of him with even a place on the bench not guaranteed.

Forster wasn't happy that it had been suggested in the media that he was third choice and so broached the subject.

In a nutshell, Forster politely suggested that he wanted first team football and who was I to argue.

I didn't blame him, as I say having watched him put in plenty of performances in which he showed levels that were way above the average reserve team player it was obvious he was going places.

This wasn't a surprise to me, goalkeepers generally don't want to be told where they stand in the pecking order.

Don't forget they have their own union.

They are a different animal entirely to outfield players as slots are so precious and they know that they can't all play.

In training they work hard all week to battle for the number 1 slot and then take it from there.

Forster had reached the stage though where playing in the reserves at Newcastle
was simply out of the question last summer - even though the Magpies wanted him to stay.

Many wondered if his move to Celtic would rule him out of potential England honours.

And having been overlooked by England Under-21s you had to feel that it could be a case of "out of sight, out of mind" - especially given the way England selection has worked in recent years.

Indeed, if former Three Lions boss Fabio Capello was afraid to journey past Birmingham, Glasgow would have caused him a nose-bleed.

Nevertheless, the continually refreshing reign of Roy Hodgson sees Forster handed his chance.

Whether it makes the £2million Newcastle accepted from Celtic look like a snip is one thing.

But those who worked with Forster at Newcastle United will be proud to see him in the England squad for the games with San Marino and Poland.


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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