SAINTS have opened talks with goalkeeper Alex McCarthy over signing a new deal at the club, according to the Athletic.

The 31-year-old England international has been first choice for boss Ralph Hasenhuttl in the Premier League this season, having played 23 of the St Mary’s side’s 24 top-flight games.

McCarthy has kept seven clean sheets in the division this season – the only game he missed was the 1-0 home victory over Liverpool due to testing positive for COVID-19.

The Athletic claim talks between McCarthy and Saints remain at an early stage – with club also still working on new contracts for Danny Ings and Ryan Bertrand.

Guildford-born McCarthy, whose current deal runs out in 2022, has played 105 times for Saints in all competitions, having signed from Crystal Palace in 2016.

Speaking about his time at Saints back in December, McCarthy said: “I’ve been here a while now and I’ve seen a few managers, but I think the work that Ralph’s put in and the way he’s got us playing has been unbelievable.

“He doesn’t leave any stone unturned – he’s so thorough in everything he does. After all the games, we’ll have a debrief and he’ll pick certain things out.

“Sometimes I’m like, ‘I didn’t even see that’. He doesn’t miss a thing. He’s so thorough, he’s so clear in his messages.”

McCarthy is expected to feature when Hasenhuttl’s men head to Leeds in the Premier League tomorrow (6pm).