After putting his faith in Fraser Forster against Sheffield United last weekend, Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl reverted back to Alex McCarthy for the trip to Manchester City in midweek; and after shipping another five goals, it seems clear that Forster should be back in between the sticks against Brighton at the weekend.
McCarthy has been the first-choice ‘keeper at Southampton for the majority of the season but there were rightly questions asked of him during the awful run of form which saw the Saints pick up just one point from a possible 27, with the shot-stopper also conceding nine in a galling defeat at Old Trafford.
Meanwhile, Forster had been impressing in the FA Cup, in which kept three clean sheets out of three, whilst he also stood out in Southampton’s 1-0 win against Liverpool in January, when McCarthy missed out after testing positive for the current viral outbreak.
The 32-year-old, who was out on loan at Celtic last season, was given the nod for Southampton’s trip to Everton, where Hasenhuttl’s side lost 1-0, and kept his place for the all-important 2-0 win at Bramall Lane, which brought an end to the Saints’ torrid run of form.
However, the Austrian opted to make plenty of changes for the game against Pep Guardiola’s league leaders, which included McCarthy starting in goal.
It has been suggested that the former Reading and QPR man has been selected ahead of Forster because of his ability with the ball at his feet, but he was extremely fortunate not to give away a penalty when he let the ball slip under his foot before bringing down Phil Foden in the penalty box.
He also conceded five goals in the defeat and, whilst it is difficult to dispute that he could have done much more with any of the goals, you can’t justify keeping him in the side ahead of Forster when considering his clean sheet record this season (just seven shutouts in 26 games).
Therefore, Hasenhuttl should axe the £5.85m-rated McCarthy ahead of the game against Brighton at St Mary’s on Sunday and instead put his faith in Forster – hailed as “outstanding” by another former Celtic ‘keeper in Rab Douglas – for the rest of the season.