FRASER Forster admitted he is "very proud" to have forced his way back into Ralph Hasenhuttl's plans, having waited patiently for his chance to play for Saints again.

The goalkeeper arrived at the St Mary's club from Celtic in 2014, featuring more than 100 times before returning to the Scottish giants on loan in 2019, having lost his place in the Saints team.

This time last year, both Alex McCarthy and Angus Gunn were ahead of Forster in the Saints pecking order, but with Gunn loaned out to Stoke, Forster returned to battle McCarthy once again for the number one spot.

The Hexham-born talent had only featured once under Hasenhuttl before this season, in the penultimate game of the 2018-19 campaign, before a fruitful loan spell back at Celtic, where he won the Scottish Premiership title, as well as the Scottish League Cup.

But the 33-year-old is now firmly back in the picture at Saints, having played 13 times this campaign.

Forster had to wait until January for his first appearance of the season, starring in a 1-0 win over champions Liverpool after first-choice Alex McCarthy contracted COVID-19.

He then became Saints' cup keeper, playing in all of the club's matches in the run to the FA Cup semi-finals, not conceding until the Wembley defeat to Leicester City.

And the former England international is now getting chances in the Premier League again, with Hasenhuttl opting to rotate between Forster and McCarthy for the final few weeks of the season.

Forster grabbed his chance on Tuesday evening, making a crucial penalty save from Luka Milivojevic as Saints beat Crystal Palace 3-1 at St Mary's.

Asked how much pride he can take personally in forcing his way back into the plans having begun the season playing second fiddle to McCarthy, Forster told the Daily Echo: "Very proud. Coming back (from Celtic) was obviously a big decision and I put my head down, worked hard and waited and I feel like I’ve taken my chance when it’s come along.

"It’s just one of them, I try to do as well as I can to help the team when I play and it’s just trying to keep doing that. We’re obviously blessed as a club that we’ve got a few top keepers."

Despite impressing against Roy Hodgson's Eagles, Forster may find himself on the bench again tomorrow, when Fulham visit St Mary's (3pm).

"It’s just one of them," said the former Newcastle United youngster.

"Obviously nice to be playing, you want to do as well as you can. It’s just important that you work hard in training and you’re ready if your chance comes along.

"Obviously it’s the manager’s decision to rotate the keepers and it’s not a problem, it’s just a case of when you get a chance, try to do well.

"There’s obviously a few games left, so we’ll just see what happens."