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England expects . . . but so does Forster

FRASER FORSTER spent several long hours caught somewhere between outright fear and cautious anticipation as the England manager, Roy Hodgson, finalised the list of players to be told by text message that they ought to pack a bag for Brazil.

Forster: 'I'm on Twitter. I think it will be hard not to know what people are saying . . . I think it will be hard to avoid finding out'. Picture: Getty Images
Forster: 'I'm on Twitter. I think it will be hard not to know what people are saying . . . I think it will be hard to avoid finding out'. Picture: Getty Images

He realises all too clearly, however, that the same mobile telephone that brought the best news of his football career just last week may soon become the bane of his existence should those bearing the Three Lions add to their country's 48 years of ongoing hurt in the World Cup.

The Celtic goalkeeper has travelled with the rest of Hodgson's 23-man squad to a training camp in Portugal this week and will return home for a Wembley friendly with Peru on May 30 before relocating to Miami for his nation's final warm-up matches with Ecuador and Honduras.

Forster, in keeping with a growing number of players, will keep in touch with events back home through social media. He is a confirmed member of the Twitterati, posting about all manner of nonsense from punters wearing his name and number on their replica shirts to photos of him sharing a bath with some of his team-mates.

Should England fail to make an impression on football's biggest stage, however, the fun is likely to stop. They do not take kindly to failure in World Cups in southern parts and Forster accepts it will be almost impossible in these technologically-advanced times for the players to remain isolated from what is being said about their performances 6000 miles away.

"I'm on Twitter," he confessed. "I think it will be hard not to know what people are saying. Obviously, there are times when it benefits you to keep your distance but, with it being a World Cup, I think it will be hard to avoid finding out."

Forster, for the moment at least, remains on a high following his international call-up in the wake of a fine season at domestic and European level with the SPFL Premiership champions.

He recalls with great relish the moment he discovered he had made the cut and admits he will never forget the tension involved in waiting for definitive news of his inclusion.

"It was something special," recalled the 26-year-old. "You dream of it as a kid. A World Cup in Brazil is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"I think we all got a text just before the squad came out. You are sitting all morning just waiting for that text to come through. You don't leave your phone anywhere. When it does come through, it is a very special moment, and then there is the opportunity to tell all your friends and family. It is something you will remember forever."

The 2012 European Championship did bring with it a new sense of realism within supporters and professional observers of the English national team. There was a realisation they were not going to win, an acceptance that 1966 and all that is no longer relevant. Hodgson's side went out to Italy on penalty kicks in the quarter-finals.

There is little to suggest England will be in the shake-up when the World Cup in Brazil reaches its latter stages. Indeed, most bookmakers have them priced-up to finish third in a group that includes Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica. Forster, however, is remaining resolutely upbeat.

"Going into a World Cup, you have got to believe that you can win every game," he stated. "I think it is a tough group. Obviously, Italy and Uruguay are going to be very tough, but all the games will be hard. With the climate, it won't be straightforward. It is a World Cup, so every team is there on merit. They have all come through tough qualifying groups and everyone will be out to prove something."

Forster hopes to add to the one cap he earned against Chile in a 2-0 friendly defeat last November during England's warm-up campaign and welcomes the opportunity to spend time with the rest of the squad in Portugal given the fact he has not yet become an established member of the group.

"I think the trip can only help," said the former Newcastle United player, who looks likely to be competing with Ben Foster to be confirmed as the No.2 goalkeeper behind Joe Hart of Manchester City.

"It's a bit more time together with the lads. We can use all that time together because the gaffer will want to work on different things. That extra bit of time is something you don't normally get as an international team.

"This build-up period will give everybody an opportunity to work more on team shape and the way we want to play."

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