Ben Foster is hoping an injury-free pre-season is a sign of things to come.

The Manchester United keeper has been blighted by fitness problems since his arrival from Stoke four years ago, but - with the number one slot at Old Trafford becoming vacant in 12 months' time when Edwin van der Sar retires, and a place in Fabio Capello's England squad at next summer's World Cup up for grabs as well - Foster knows he is entering a crucial period in his career.

"Unfortunately the way my career has gone I have picked up injuries," said the 26-year-old. "Thankfully I have been fit all pre-season. I feel good in myself and as long as I can stay fit I hope the gaffer gives me a chance to show what I can do."

He added: "I have just signed a new contract so now I have to start pushing on."

Foster's most recent setback was an operation on his thumb, which prevented him being involved in either the Champions League final or England's World Cup double-header with Kazakhstan and Andorra, when he almost certainly would have played given David James was missing as well.

Given the position he finds himself in, Foster could have done without the blunder that gifted Malaysia their equalising goal in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

Under little pressure as he went to control a Darron Gibson back-pass at the Bukit Jalil Stadium, Foster allowed it to bounce off his shin straight to a delighted Mohammed Amri Yahyah, who tapped into an empty net.

Foster could only attempt to hide his embarrassment. Not that it was possible once he returned to the United dressing room, where no mercy was shown.

"Coming on in a game is always a bit more difficult for goalkeepers than starting but that was particularly disappointing," said Foster, who had replaced Van Der Sar at the interval. I got a bit of stick from the lads that's for sure.

"It was just one of those things. I wasn't paying enough attention and took my eye off the ball. I have to make sure that kind of thing doesn't happen again."

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Topics:
#Sunderland
#Stoke City
#Ben Foster
#David James
#Football
#Edwin Van der Sar
#Premier League
#Manchester United
#Darron Gibson