Mauricio Pellegrino praised the performance of Alex McCarthy but refused to close the door on a quick first team return for Fraser Forster.

Pellegrino made the surprise decision to leave out Forster after 76 consecutive starts in the Saints goal and replace him with McCarthy for the game against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

As it turned out McCarthy, making his first top flight start since March 2016, kept a clean sheet and Pellegrino explained: “It is the same that when I change some players because I want to give the opportunity to others.

“Now Alex has to show his capacity and quality on the pitch.

“The goalkeeper is a special position and you have to support but most of my players have had his opportunity in the Premier League and nobody can complain about that, just one or two players didn’t play but most of them had the opportunity to play.”

He added: “I think he (McCarthy) was correct, he was good, he was calm, and always showing personality in a difficult game.

“Especially at the end and some moments in the first half it was really difficult but in general the defensive job of the team was really good.”

However, Pellegrino stopped short of saying that McCarthy is his new number one.

“In football nothing is fixed. This is the question,” he said.

“Everything is changing all the time. The reality today will change tomorrow and we have to know this.

“I try to use the moment of the player and the players I feel are better I will give the opportunity and after they have to give this possibility on the pitch and show how they are and their capacity.”