FORMER Saints goalkeeper Paul Jones has backed Fraser Forster to smash his incredible clean sheets record.
In-form Forster hasn’t let in a goal for five straight games and is three shut-outs away from surpassing Jones’ top-flight record.
In 2000/01, the Welsh stopper was not beaten for an incredible seven successive Premier League matches.
Jones, who made 223 appearances for Saints in a seven-season spell, has been very impressed by Forster and has backed him to break his record.
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“I don’t see why he can’t beat my record,” he said. “Long may it continue. It is very possible, anything can happen.
“These boys will be full of it, they will feel indestructible. If it happens, they will fully deserve it.
“Records are there to be broken. It would be fantastic.”
If Forster can deny Swansea on Saturday, he’ll be on track to match Jones’ milestone against Chelsea at St Mary’s on February 27.
The 27-year-old then has the opportunity to surpass Saints’ top-flight clean-sheet record at Bournemouth three days after the visit of Guus Hiddink’s side on March 1.
As it stands, if you include Forster’s entire record, including before he got injured last term, he has gone 543 minutes without being beaten.
Jones’ record stands at a grand total of 666 minutes, which Forster will go past 34 minutes in against Chelsea.
But will nonetheless have to wait until the Cherries match to tally an eighth official clean sheet.
“To come back from injury and keep five clean sheets is very special,” said Jones.
“He’s been a tremendous help to the team after a poor run. It’s just what you needed for him to come in and perform like that.
“It is no coincidence. He has great ability and commands the people in front of him. That’s a great base for a run like they’re on.
“The defence and goalkeeper are working as a unit well and have an understanding, with Forster able to communicate effectively with them. That’s a great base.”
The 48-year-old’s run 15 years ago started with back-to-back goalless draws against Charlton and Tottenham.
“It was special. Once you get a couple of 0-0 draws under your belt it breathes confidence into the defence and you build on it from there,” he said.
Five straight wins without conceding followed against Leicester, Bradford, Middlesbrough, Manchester City and Everton.
“We weren’t doing badly before the run, but it was just a couple of results that get you working together, settle you down and before you know it you’ve got a few clean sheets and you feel like you can’t be beaten,” Jones explained.
“You feel like you’ll never concede. I remember getting the Middlesbrough clean sheet was very good – it was always a tough place to go.
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ABOVE: Paul Jones in Saints action.
“At that point, with confidence sky high, you do think you’ll ever let a goal in.”
Saints were flying high under Glenn Hoddle in 8th, but by the time they played Ipswich in early April - two weeks after the Everton victory - Hoddle had departed along with defender Dean Richards to Tottenham.
Stuart Gray was put in temporary charge for the visit of the Tractor Boys and Saints were defeated 3-0 at The Dell, spelling the end of Jones’ glorious unbeaten run.
“I remember that Glenn Hoddle had just left. I’m not sure whether that really costs us, but the upheaval from that didn’t help,” he said.
“That’s nothing against Stuart Gray, who came in. We were 8th in the league, doing very well for a Saints team at that time. But that change in March didn’t help matters in that game.
“My mate’s a massive Ipswich fan so he always reminds me of it when we play golf.
“Marcus Stewart got a hat-trick. The last goal was a penalty. It was just one of those things.”