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Alex McCarthy Back In Training For Saints: But Is He Ready To Face Leicester City
Thursday, 14th Jan 2021 09:49

Alex McCarthy missed the victory over Liverpool having to self isolate after contracting Covid 19, he is now back in training, but the question is whether he is fit enough to resume his place in the Southampton goal for the trip to the King Power Stadium on Saturday evening.

Saints number 1 keeper Alex McCarthy has resumed training after his period of self isolation with Covid 19 and from pictures released from Staplewood seems able to return to full training.

But being able to train does not mean that he is fit and ready to play in the Premier League, it would be folly to assume that he will not be feeling some backlash from effectively two weeks away from the club and the training pitch.

Even under normal circumstances there would be a loss of fitness, sharpness and reflexes after that period, but with Covid 19 being such an unpredictable disease, Saints job now will be to assess not just his fitness etc but also any reactions or after affects he may be suffering since being given the all clear.

Many who have had Covid and recovered have reported still not feeling 100% for a time afterwards and Long Covid where the sufferer although able to resume a normal working life is still suffering from tiredness and other affects is prevalent.

Hopefully Alex McCarthy has only had a mild version of the illness and having returned to the training ground has come though his first days in good health.

But Ralph Hasenhuttl does have a decision to make, his medical staff will be working overtime making sure that the keeper is fit and ready, but the only real answer will be found if and when he plays on Saturday against Leicester.

Fraser Forster although understandably rusty after not playing a competitive game for 10 months, did nothing wrong against Liverpool and Ralph Hasenhuttl was pleased with his performance not just in that game but on the training pitch and had this to say:

"It shows how good the guys are working with the goalkeeper coach and how strong they have developed every part of their game so far,"

"I think this is a good signal for us that we immediately have a ‘number one B’ that steps in and plays a fantastic game.

"A clean sheet against Liverpool in the first game, this is fantastic for us."

Forster would have played against Shrewsbury last weekend if that game had been able to be played and both he and Hasenhuttl would probably have preferred that he got game time against the Shrews, but that cannot be helped.

Now Ralph and his coaching staff and medial team have to assess Alex McCarthy and that he is 100% recovered and suffering no after affects, when they have done that they have to decide who will play in goal against Leicester.

On the face of it many would say that it is a no brainer McCarthy is the number one and should play, I do think that would be the right decision if all things are equal.

However when Stuart Armstrong returned after his spell out with the virus, some felt that he was not quite the same player he was before, it took him a few weeks before he completely had that spark back, he wasn't playing badly, but there was clearly something not quite right, it was only a split second thing, but at Premier League level that is sometimes enough.

With goalkeepers that is a lot more the case, outfield players can often get away with things, but in goal there is no hiding place, no one can usually cover an error for you and that is why this will be a much tougher decision for Ralph to make than it appears on paper.

Photo: Action Images



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AirFlorida added 10:14 - Jan 14
It's a shame for FF that the FA Cup game was called off. He would have been in goal and Ralph could have seen if his rustniess had improved since his good (not exceptional) performance against Liverpool. Clean sheets breed confidence (especially against the champions) so it would have been good to see if we had a genuine no2 who can put more pressure on Alex. However, having FF in goal seemed to squeeze out an extra few percent from our defence as they took it as a personal mission to protect him and his goal. If the team/defence could keep that mentality with Alex in goal against Leicester then we'd have a great chance of keeping another clean sheet!
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nickdevon added 11:40 - Jan 14
excellent article

Agree with all you say Airflorida..perfectly put. I do hope vestergaard is getting nearer to being fit. His long passes and bringing the ball out of defence makes such a diiference to how we play.
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Whatsforpud added 17:06 - Jan 14
Nick, you say that against Liverpool, Forster did nothing wrong. Keeping a clean sheet is not the same thing as doing nothing wrong. He was protected by a defence that only allowed Liverpool on shot on target. He doesn't command his goal area, and punches when he could well catch. I am less convinced.
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