Southampton keeper Alex McCarthy back in training ahead of Leicester City clash on Saturday

Ralph Hasenhuttl has received a boost ahead of his side’s clash with Leicester City, as shot-stopper Alex McCarthy has returned to training.

Southampton keeper Alex McCarthy back in training ahead of Leicester City clash on Saturday

Alex McCarthy back

Southampton have received a huge boost ahead of their European qualification showdown with Leicester City on Saturday, after it was confirmed that goalkeeper Alex McCarthy has returned to training following a period of self isolation.

McCarthy has been one of the best keepers in the Premier League this season, managing to keep 7 clean sheets. Whilst the England international was isolating, Ralph Hasenhuttl was forced into utilising Fraser Forster for the match against Liverpool. The former Celtic man, though, enjoyed an excellent display, and kept a clean sheet in a 1-0 win over the champions.

On the back of the clash, Hasenhuttl spoke of his happiness at having such a fantastic backup at his disposal:

“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,” said the Southampton boss.

Southampton keeper Alex McCarthy back in training ahead of Leicester City clash on Saturday

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 23: Fraser Forster of Southampton gives his eam instructions during the Premier League match between Southampton and Huddersfield Town at St Mary’s Stadium on December 23, 2017 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

“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.”

It will be intriguing to see which goalkeeper Hasenhuttl opts for versus Leicester, but, based on his comments in referring to Forster as plan ‘B’, if McCarthy is fit, he will likely start.

Defensive security

Southampton currently have the joint-4th best defensive record in the Premier League, and one which is better than all of the top-4 clubs this season. Ralph Hasenhuttl has been able to instil an aura of confidence, solidity and and determination, which has allowed his side to establish themselves as contenders for a European spot.

The former RB Leipzig coach recently spoke of the importance of maintaining possession, and keeping the opponent moving:

“Absolutely,” he said when asked if his side’s defensive record is of importance. “I was always very, very angry about our not consistent defending because we are definitely one of the better organised teams in this league and still concede so many goals.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 13: Che Adams of Southampton celebrates with teammates Jannik Vestergaard, Danny Ings and Theo Walcott after scoring their team's first goal during the Premier League match between Southampton and Sheffield United at St Mary's Stadium on December 13, 2020 in Southampton, England. A limited number of spectators (2000) are welcomed back to stadiums to watch elite football across England. This was following easing of restrictions on spectators in tiers one and two areas only. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 13: Che Adams of Southampton celebrates with teammates Jannik Vestergaard, Danny Ings and Theo Walcott after scoring their team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Southampton and Sheffield United at St Mary’s Stadium on December 13, 2020 in Southampton, England. A limited number of spectators (2000) are welcomed back to stadiums to watch elite football across England. This was following easing of restrictions on spectators in tiers one and two areas only. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

“As strange as it sounds, the way we try to play with the ball now is our fundament of not conceding so many goals, because we have more possession.

“The opponent has to run more to get the ball back. That also kills you and makes you a little bit more tired, so you are not so clinical when you have a chance. That makes it easier to defend for us. The whole package is a more successful one.”

Their meeting with Leicester City at the weekend will be another test for Southampton, with the likes of Jamie Vardy, James Maddison and Harvey Barnes all no doubt readying their best efforts to break down the stubborn Saints back line.

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This article was edited by Conor Laird.

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# Team MP D P
1 Manchester City FC 19 23 41
2 Manchester United FC 19 11 40
3 Leicester City FC 19 14 38
4 West Ham United FC 20 6 35
5 Liverpool FC 19 15 34
6 Tottenham Hotspur FC 18 16 33
7 Everton FC 17 7 32
8 Arsenal FC 20 6 30
9 Aston Villa FC 17 13 29
10 Chelsea FC 19 10 29
11 Southampton FC 19 3 29
12 Leeds United 19 -3 26
13 Crystal Palace FC 20 -12 23
14 Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 19 -8 22
15 Burnley FC 18 -12 19
16 Newcastle United FC 20 -15 19
17 Brighton & Hove Albion FC 19 -7 17
18 Fulham FC 18 -12 12
19 West Bromwich Albion 20 -33 11
20 Sheffield United FC 19 -22 5
Premier League 20/21
Topscorers
Disciplinary
Assists
Player Team Goals
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 13
Kane, Harry Tottenham Hotspur FC 12
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur FC 12
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United FC 11
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City FC 11
Calvert-Lewin, Dominic Everton FC 11
Bamford, Patrick Leeds United 10
Zaha, Wilfried Crystal Palace FC 9
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United FC 8
Watkins, Ollie Aston Villa FC 8
Lacazette, Alexandre Arsenal FC 8
Rashford, Marcus Manchester United FC 7
Ings, Danny Southampton FC 7
Maupay, Neal Brighton & Hove Albion FC 7
Gundogan, Ilkay Manchester City FC 7
Soucek, Tomas West Ham United FC 7
Grealish, Jack Aston Villa FC 6
Sterling, Raheem Manchester City FC 6
Mane, Sadio Liverpool FC 6
Maddison, James Leicester City FC 6