Dan Sheldon, Southampton correspondent for The Athletic, was critical of goalkeeper Fraser Forster during the 1-1 draw against Leeds United.
The lowdown: The battle for no.1
The 34-year-old stopper has had to fight hard for a place in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side and was recalled when the previous incumbent of the gloves, Alex McCarthy, injured his hamstring in December.
Since then Forster has started 13 consecutive Premier League matches as veteran ‘keeper Willy Caballero acts as deputy.
As the Saints made it four league games without a victory at Elland Road, the former Celtic ace came in for criticism for his role in the opening goal.
The latest: Sheldon unimpressed
Hosting a post-match Q&A on The Athletic for Southampton supporters, the journalist was prompted to provide his thoughts after Leeds winger Jack Harrison poked the ball beyond the stranded Saints star, who had earlier tamely attempted to punch clear.
Described as a ‘howler’ in the question, Sheldon responded: “He (Forster) certainly didn’t cover himself in glory with Leeds’ goal!”
Overall, it was indeed an afternoon to forget for the towering six-cap England man, as Forster completed just 8/31 passes (26%), 5/28 long balls and the all-important error leading to the goal – earning a lowly rating of 6.30 (Sofascore).
Ultimately it was Southampton talisman James Ward-Prowse who spared the shot-stopper’s blushes as the captain scored a trademark free-kick to level the game and earn a valuable point.
The verdict: Credit in the bank?
Whilst this was far from an inspiring performance from the usually reliable Englishman, there should be no need for rash decisions when it comes to Hasenhuttl’s selection for the meeting with Chelsea.
Previously described as a ‘quality’ operator by Saints teammate Mohamed Elyounoussi, Forster has proven to be a worthy top-flight number one for some time now.
However, at 34 and out of contract at the end of the season (Transfermarkt) with a 32-year-old McCarthy and 40-year-old Caballero waiting in the wings, perhaps the greater concern should be who takes the gloves in the long term at St Mary’s.
In other news: Pundit tips UCL chasing side to move for Saints star. Find out more here!
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