On a miserable run of form, it's not clear exactly what the future holds for Southampton at the moment.
Indeed, while their recent injury crisis is unfortunate, it has strengthened the idea that Ralph Hasenhuttl doesn't have the squad available to him in order to build something significant.
After all, this is a side who topped the Premier League earlier this season, only to see their campaign wrecked by injuries and the like, as well as endure a fairly inactive January transfer window, with fans making their feelings clear towards the board after the 9-0 loss to Manchester United earlier this month.
Still, although continuity seems to be a rare commodity on the South Coast right now, reports from The Athletic suggest those behind the scenes are looking to reach a fresh agreement with an ever-present in their side.
They claim Southampton have opened talks with goalkeeper Alex McCarthy over a potential new deal with the discussions at an early stage. Currently, the 31-year-old's contract runs out in 2022 but Saints want to extend his stay even further given his importance to the cause.
McCarthy has missed only one Premier League game this season and the options outside of him have rarely been trusted. Fraser Forster has played one Premier League game after his teammate's enforced absence against Liverpool in January, while Harry Lewis has not even featured in cup competition.
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With Hasenhuttl himself admitting money was tight, trying to secure a key first-team player's future before he enters the final year of his deal obviously makes sense.
Considering his status as a homegrown option as well as someone who has proven capable of making it into the England squad, McCarthy would surely be an attractive option for a number of clubs should his contract wind down at St. Mary's.
According to FBRef, the former Crystal Palace custodian boasts the sixth-highest clean sheet percentage in the Premier League this season (33.3%) and ranks fifth-highest for the number of opposition crosses successfully claimed per game (8.9).
Only Liverpool have set-up to allow their 'keeper to make defensive actions further from their goal line (0.71 yards on average) than Southampton (0.65) so McCarthy is clearly crucial in helping them adopt a high line to carry out Hasenhuttl's game plan.
Given how well that was working at the start of the season as they surged to the league's summit, his importance to how the team operate is obvious.News Now - Sport News