ALEX McCarthy will start the season as Saints' number one goalkeeper, despite the return of Fraser Forster to the club.

Forster is back at St Mary's after a fruitful loan spell at Celtic, where he featured in 39 matches last season.

The 32-year-old wants to compete with McCarthy and fellow goalkeeper Angus Gunn for the number one jersey at Saints.

But boss Ralph Hasenhuttl confirmed one-time England international McCarthy is in line to get the nod at Selhurst Park tomorrow, with either Gunn or Forster likely to leave the club before the transfer window closes next month.

"My number one at the moment is Alex," said Hasenhuttl.

"I think he deserves to get this trust, because he played fantastic at the end of last season with very good development in every part of his game.

"In the end we will have to have a look at what happens with the other two guys.

"We don't need both (Fraser and Angus) here, so it can be quite likely that one of them will be leaving us. Let's have a look."

He added: "Fraser stays with us at the moment. We have Alex McCarthy as our number one.

"I think Alex made a fantastic development in the last games and then for the number two position, Fraser and Gunny, one will maybe leave us and one will stay with us.

"With Gunny and Fraser we have two goalkeepers who try to push him (McCarthy), but I think Alex made fantastic development with the ball, also with shot-stopping.

"You can see that Andrew (Sparkes, goalkeeper coach) worked very hard with them, especially with the ball. We have created some habits, some automatism that Fraser just has to learns.

"He definitely can do it, because he's also open-minded and tries to improve his game because like outfield players, the game is changing for goalkeepers all the time. It's developing. Especially what you demand with the ball is completely different now.

"Andrew has done it now for over a year with Alex and you can see he is a little bit ahead of the other guys."