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Get McCarthy on the plane?

Pin McCarthy has been integral to Saints' all-but assured Premier League survival. Twitter/Alex_Macca23
McCarthy has been integral to Saints' all-but assured Premier League survival. Twitter/Alex_Macca23

Get McCarthy on the plane?

Gareth Southgate finds himself spoiled for choice for goalkeepers to take to the World Cup in Russia this summer. The recent heroics of Southampton shot-stopper Alex McCarthy will certainly have caught the eye of the Three Lions boss.

When former England keeper Fraser Forster suffered a dip in form after Christmas, McCarthy was thrown in the deep end on the South Coast and has, almost 'single-handedly', kept the Saints afloat

In football, a top-drawer save at the death is as good as a last-minute winner, and Southampton's lucky No. 13 now leaves every game on his teammates' shoulders. Leading 1-0 at home to Bournemouth last month, McCarthy catapulted himself across his goalline in the 94th minute to tip a deflected strike over the bar and guarantee three crucial points for his side. 

Against Everton, the Englishman produced an almost carbon copy of that acrobatic dive to deny a Leighton Baines free-kick, and in Tuesday's tie with Swansea, he came up with the goods once again to stop Jordan Ayew's dipping effort. 

In the aftermath of the Everton clash, Saints boss Mark Hughes didn't hold back his gushing praise for the keeper: "Alex is one of those that has that ability and that physicality that allows him to be able to do that as a top line keeper."

Pulling off a match-defining save every game, McCarthy is compiling an impressive portfolio for Southgate, who is thought to be reserving three goalkeeper seats on the plane to Russia this summer.

However, despite McCarthy's formidable form, he remains an outside shout for the England squad. With no experience at senior level for the national side, it may be too soon for Saints' man between the sticks to pull on the Three Lions jersey.

A more realistic aim for Southampton's first-choice keeper might be UEFA Euro 2020 with qualifying starting next March. Nevertheless, should McCarthy make the cut for the World Cup, no-one will say he didn't deserve it

Thomas Davidson

Thomas Davidson

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