Foster proves his worth with fine League Cup display

Ben Foster again showed his worth to Alex McLeish’s Birmingham City side with a man of the match performance in Sunday’s League Cup victory against Arsenal. Foster now has a hat-trick of League Cup victories as it was his third triumph in the competition in three years, having played a vital role in Manchester United’s win in 2009 and being an unused substitute in 2010.

Prior to the encounter Foster spoke of his enjoyment at his continued run of games in the Birmingham first-team and also of the pleasure he takes in the amount of action he sees in games: “Being kept busy is something I quite enjoy. You know you’ll get you fair share of it as the Birmingham goalie; you know you’re going to have quite a bit to do, but I love it.”

Foster was certainly busy during this encounter and often kept his side in the match, something which was also seen from him in the first-leg of the semi-final away at West Ham. However, this was then proceeded by him letting a weak shot squirm through his grasp late on.

There is no doubting that he appears to be a man for the big occasion, pulling off a string of good saves in Sunday’s match during a second-half spell where the team from St. Andrews were starting to look ragged. He also showed this in 2009, playing a huge part in the penalty shootout success for United, but it is the consistency which can often elude him.

In most instances a ‘keeper at a top club is not being worked as much as if he played for other clubs, but they must maintain their concentration throughout before being called into action. This is where Foster and other goalkeepers have struggled at top clubs, and it may be a black mark which is continually labelled against Foster as he strives to displace Joe Hart as the number one for England. With the increased workload that he enjoys so much at Birmingham he is able to really show his ability as a top-class shot-stopper, but Fabio Capello may still remain unsure of his levels of concentration when playing at international level.

That is to take nothing away from Birmingham and Foster for a performance which was fully deserving of winning Sunday’s encounter. The former Stoke keeper has looked to build on his role as first-choice keeper at St. Andrews, with the confidence seen in the early stages of his career returning. Working under McLeish last season did wonders for Hart, and the former Rangers manager seems to be achieving similar results with Foster.

Not yet in the prime of his goalkeeping experience at 27, and having had the experience of a top flight club, Foster is definitely back on the right track to achieving what was expected of him in the early stages of his career. However, this performance must be built on in Birmingham’s next encounter to ensure there is no hangover from this huge success. If Foster can help his side maintain their Premier League status his stock will continue to grow.

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