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Clarke: Foster is best in the world

Steve Clarke believes Ben Foster is the best goalkeeper in the world and would have spent his entire transfer budget to sign him from Birmingham City last summer.

• Blog: Toughest test of all
• McCauley wants to stay

Foster moved to the Hawthorns in July for £4m following a 12-month loan stint, but West Bromwich Albion head coach Clarke would have willingly spent much more than that make him his number one.

Clarke believes Foster would be Joe Hart's biggest challenger for the England goakleeper's spot if the former Manchester United keeper had not made himself unavailable for international duty.

Hart's position in the England side has been placed under the microscope over the last few days following his mistake in the World Cup qualifying draw with Poland and ITV analyst Roy Keane branding him "cocky."

The pair will be in direct opposition at the Hawthorns on Saturday as Albion look to defend their 100% home record and Clarke believes his 'keeper will demonstrate exactly what England are missing.

"I think Joe Hart is the best goalkeeper in the country because he plays for England and Ben Foster is the best goalkeeper in the world in my opinion because he plays for me, he plays for my team and he's been great for me," said Clarke.

"He was a player we identified in the summer that if we had to take the entire transfer budget to get him that's what we'd do. He has a different way about him. He's not a normal goalkeeper, if that makes sense.

"He has different ways of saving the ball but the bottom line is he keeps the ball out of the net. I'm not saying he's unique because there might be other goalkeepers who are also unorthodox but he keeps the ball out of the net in his own way."

Foster decided to withdraw from international selection last year, citing personal reasons and concerns over his ability to maintain fitness over longer periods and has faced accusations of letting his country down over the move.

Clarke believes Foster should be respected for taking the line he has chosen and the Scot feels Albion are reaping the rewards of the 'keeper's desire to concentrate on his domestic career.

"He made a decision on England a while ago. He certainly has the talent to play for England, but he enjoys spending time with his family and we respect him," said Clarke.

"It means he also has his whole focus on the club. It's a great decision for us and for Ben because he seems very comfortable in himself."

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