SAINTS goalkeeper Fraser Forster is yet to hear from the club in regards to his future, sources with knowledge of the situation have told the Daily Echo.

Forster’s contract is set to expire at the end of June and thus far there has been no movement on a new deal, leaving the 34-year-old headed for the exit door as things stand.

Forster began the season as deputy to Alex McCarthy but the former Celtic man took hold of the starting job after McCarthy suffered a hamstring injury in early December. Forster has now started Saints’ last 18 Premier League games and even earned a call-up to the England squad in March for the first time since 2017.

McCarthy was also due to see his contract expire this summer but the 32-year old signed a new deal earlier this season. The club are yet to announce the extension but it has been confirmed by the annual FA Intermediary report.

The Echo understands that Forster was not informed of the decision to award McCarthy a new contract, instead finding out when the news became public.

Additionally, it is understood that Forster would still be open to discussing a new deal but does not see his future as back-up to McCarthy - something that is understandable considering his form over the past three months.

Daily Echo: Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy. Image by: PASaints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy. Image by: PA

Complicating matters is that sources have explained Southampton are eyeing a younger goalkeeper to compete for the top job. 

All three of Saints’ current shot-stoppers - third-string Willy Caballero included - are over the age of 30 and it is believed the club are looking to bring in younger competition this summer, something that if successful would in all likelihood not leave place for both McCarthy and Forster.

So how has it come to this?

After rotating his goalkeepers through the final weeks of the 2020/21 Premier League season, Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl made his intentions clear by starting Alex McCarthy for the opening weeks of the current campaign.

Speaking in August, Hasenhuttl said: “We will definitely extend the contract of one of the two keepers, then the other one will leave. I think that, in the future, we will look to sign a new goalkeeper.”

Shortly after, McCarthy signed his new deal, seemingly making the choice clear: Forster would depart. But his re-emergence over the latter months of the season has caused many fans to implore the club to rethink their plans.

At this point, in a straight battle between the two, Forster appears the favoured option to start between the sticks with Hasenhuttl confirming ahead of Saturday’s trip to Brentford that Forster will keep his place despite McCarthy returning to action for the club’s B Team earlier this week.

"Goalkeeper coach decided he is now ready for playing a game and I think he did okay," Hasenhuttl said about McCarthy's return. "Two good saves and it is good that he is on the way. I don’t know, maybe too early as he was out for a long time so we don’t need to rush. Fraser has done a fantastic job this season and absolutely key when he was playing the last few games."

It might have initially been injury-induced but Forster is now occupying the role on merit rather than due to a lack of competition.

A superb performance in the recent 6-0 defeat to Chelsea was followed by an even better one in Saints’ 1-0 win against Arsenal and in the week following the Forster-inspired victory, Hasenhuttl was asked about extending the goalkeeper’s deal.

“Absolutely, there are a lot of arguments for doing this and I’m sure we’ll find with him a very good solution for the future,” the Austrian said.

“I was very happy with the way he reacted when he got the chance to play and I think he absolutely grabbed the chance with all his effort.

“This is a very good argument for him, definitely.”

Daily Echo: Fraser Forster with manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.Fraser Forster with manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.

Statistically, this holds true as well. According to Opta’s ‘Goals Prevented’ metric - used to showcase how many goals a keeper should concede based on the number and quality of the shots on target they face - Forster ranks third (saving 2.5 goals more than expected) behind only Wolves’ Jose Sa and Manchester United’s David De Gea.

Amongst shot-stoppers who have played at least 40% of their team’s minutes, McCarthy ranks 16th, conceding 3.9 more goals than he should have.

This one statistic isn’t the be all and end all of how a goalkeeper should be judged but it supports what’s fairly clear to see: on current form, Fraser Forster is the best goalkeeper at the club.

It's important to point out that McCarthy has also enjoyed productive spells as Saints' number one, notably through the first half of the 2020/21 season prior to testing positive for Covid.

With less than three weeks until the end of the season and no progress on a new contract, time could be starting to run thin on Forster’s Saints career.