Fraser Forster’s return cannot be the only reason for Southampton’s sudden upturn but the turnaround since he took over in goal has been staggering.
Southampton was on their worst run of form in years when Fraser Forster made his return from injury recently.
A run of eight defeats and just one win in 10 matches had left fans looking anxiously down the table as Saints slipped worryingly towards the Premier League relegation zone and were dumped out of the FA Cup.
Forster’s return cannot be the only reason for their sudden upturn but the turnaround since he took over in goal has been staggering. The facts speak for themselves; three matches, three wins, three clean sheets.
His long-awaited comeback is good news for both the player and the team, and maybe even England, should anything happen to Joe Hart between now and the European Championship in the summer.
Hart is clearly Roy Hodgson’s first-choice goalkeeper but he knows there is pressure for his place as Forster and Jack Butland continue to show form which suggests they would be capable replacements if the need arises.
Even if he does not feature at EURO 2016, a place in the squad would at least be some reward for a player who has never been afraid to make whatever move has been necessary to progress his career.
Born in Hexham, Northumberland, Forster was a late developer in a footballing sense. He also enjoyed playing rugby union and cricket and did not play football as a goalkeeper until he was 13 years old.
He played youth football for Wallsend Boys Club, following in the footsteps of the likes of Michael Carrick, Steve Bruce and Alan Shearer, and was then signed up to Newcastle United’s academy in 2005.
He signed professional terms with the club a year later and at the beginning of the 2007/8 season, at just 19, he was the Magpies’ third-choice goalkeeper.
When Tim Krul returned for the next campaign, Forster was loaned out to Stockport County in League One and made his professional debut in the Football League Trophy in October 2008.
During his short spell at Stockport he made six appearances, keeping three clean sheets, before being restricted to sitting on the Newcastle bench for the remainder of the season.
Forster was again loaned out the following season, this time to Bristol Rovers — also of League One — where he made just four appearances, keeping two clean sheets.
Rovers manager Paul Trollope wanted to extend the loan of the young stopper but Norwich made a counter offer and Forster ventured to Carrow Road to join up with manager Paul Lambert.
The remainder of the 2009/ 10 season was to prove hugely successful for both club and player, with Forster keeping 20 clean sheets in 42 appearances in all competitions as the Canaries won the League One title.
His success in Norfolk drew the attention of Celtic boss Neil Lennon, who signed Forster on a season-long loan from Newcastle. More silverware came Forster’s way as he kept a clean sheet in the Scottish Cup final with Celtic running out 3-0 winners over Motherwell at Hampden Park.
Despite featuring in Newcastle’s pre-season games in the summer of 2011, Forster rejoined Celtic on loan, winning his first SPL title that season.
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