Alex McCarthy has remarkably revived his career, following a catalogue of injuries that deprived him of action for over a year.
In December, McCarthy displaced first-choice goalkeeper Fraser Forster, and impressed to keep Manchester United at bay in a goal less draw at Old Trafford. He’s proved unmovable ever since, and Forster’s chances of earning a place in England’s squad to travel to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup are extremely slim.
McCarthy’s career began at Reading in 2007, but it took until The Royals 2012/13 campaign in the Premier League for him to break into the starting line-up. He spent the majority of his early career acting as cover for Adam Federici, which forced him to go on eight separate loan spells, but a sudden drop in-form and an injury set-back led to the inclusion of McCarthy.
He flourished playing regularly, impressing the public with an array of top class saves. Many suggested a possible England call-up, but his dreams suddenly came crashing down when he was ruled out for the remainder of the season with a catastrophic shoulder injury.
Fortunately, McCarthy recovered to regain his starting spot for the final month of the season, and he went onto permanently displace Adam Federici as the No. 1 choice at the Madejski Stadium. McCarthy remained at the club, despite their relegation at the end of the 2012/13 season, but eventually returned to the Premier League, after just one season in the Championship.
Queens Park Rangers was his next destination, but he found himself playing second-string to former England international Robert Green. It was a frustrating campaign for McCarthy, who was reduced to just four appearances in all competitions.
The Englishman was set for another move after Queens Park Rangers, and hoped for first team football at Selhurst Park with Crystal Palace. McCarthy’s qualities were undermined once again and he was unable to threaten the regular place of Wayne Hennessey.
McCarthy arrived at the St Mary’s Stadium with renewed aspirations, but it seemed his was destined to fail when various injury spells deprived him of action for the entirety of his debut season.
The 28-year-old was reduced to playing in cup competitions and at under-23 level, but he was determined to displace the unconvincing Fraser Forster. The former Celtic goalkeeper delivered a demoralizing performance in a 4-1 drubbing at home to Leicester City in December, and McCarthy was eagerly waiting to pounce in the background.
His performance at Manchester United was the type of performance that led to his explosion onto the scene at Reading. He resumed his impressive form by keeping another clean sheet in a narrow win against Fulham at Craven Cottage in the Third Round of the FA Cup.
Overall, McCarthy has kept four clean sheets in his twelve appearances, conceding 12 goals. The former Reading, Queens Park Rangers and Crystal Palace goalkeeper has conceded an average of one goal per game, whereas Forster conceded an average of 1.5 goals per game.
This statistic suggests that McCarthy has temporarily preserved his role as Southampton’s No. 1. However, the life of a goalkeeper can change drastically, and the future is still uncertain for McCarthy. He finally has the opportunity to fulfil his potential, after years of being underestimated and a ton of catastrophic injury spells.