Fraser Forster took the decision over the summer not to bother answering Neil Lennon’s 10-in-a-row call, but now he must be regretting staying at Southampton.
When Celtic wrapped up nine-in-a-row back in May and attention turned to our summer transfer work, not many would’ve predicted that Forster wouldn’t come back. He had just revived his career in Scotland, starring in cup finals against Rangers and in big Europa League matches against the likes of Lazio, Rennes, and Copenhagen respectively.
Indeed, Forster managed to secure a grand total of 39 appearances in his season-long loan last year (Transfermarkt). That was more games than he had managed in his previous two years put together. Stuck on the sidelines at St Mary’s, a move to Celtic looked ideal for him.
And he had been making the right noises about staying permanently too. He was out in the media saying that he could “never say no” to Celtic etc etc (The Herald).
Then he said no to Celtic.
Southampton CEO Martin Semmens cleared the Forster saga up back in August when he told the BBC that it had been Forster’s decision not to return to Parkhead. Instead, he wanted to stay down south and battle for a spot with the Premier League side.
Not quite what Fraser had in mind
Fast forward two months and Forster hasn’t seen a single minute of action this season. For all five of Southampton’s Premier League openers, Forster has spent the entirety of them on the bench.
Even for their EFL Cup clash at Brentford last month, Forster still wasn’t selected in what was a weakened Saints XI. Instead, he’s simply had to watch Alex McCarthy took the spot he rejected Parkhead for, and there’s no sign of that changing anytime soon.
Meanwhile, he’s watching on as Vasilis Barkas continues to get some glorious opportunities to shine in big matches at Parkhead. Not everyone has been convinced by the new goalkeeper, but you can’t deny the chances he’s getting and the stages he’s performing on.
It could’ve been Forster who was getting set to take on AC Milan this Thursday night. Instead, he’ll be preparing to sit on the bench for a home match against Everton at the weekend.
Perhaps Fraser believed that his season at Celtic and the plaudits gained was enough to shoot him back into superstardom down south. But it hasn’t worked out anywhere near how he would’ve hoped.
Effectively, the England international is now in the same position he was in before he came to Parkhead last year – back on the fringes at Southampton and struggling to make an appearance.
It’s a shame how it’s all unfolded, but as Forster’s role this season becomes clear, he must have some regrets at not taking the opportunity to help fire us to 10-in-a-row.