A delighted Fraser Forster described his return to action after more than nine months out injured as “perfect”, after helping Saints beat Chelsea 1-0 in the Under-21 Premier League Cup.
The 27-year-old keeper made a number of superb saves during the match at Staplewood, and he explained that it had been an ideal night for him on his first appearance since suffering a serious knee injury last March.
Forster told youtube.com/southamptonfc: “Obviously, a bit rusty, but it was perfect. I'm buzzing to get 90 minutes under my belt – it’s probably been nine-and-a-half months now. I'm just delighted, just to kind of get through it, and the victory makes it that much better.”
Forster’s most spectacular stop came in the 68th minute, as he tipped a Kasey Palmer shot onto the post with his outstretched left foot.
"It was nice to make the save,” he said. “It just obviously flicked off my studs and onto the post, but the lads really kind of limited the chances that Chelsea had. They were fantastic. [Centre-backs] Jack Stephens and Alfie [Jones] putting in the blocks. It was one of those games that it was tough and we had to dig in, but we got the result.”
Forster also paid credit to the many staff who have helped him on the long road back, with a whole host on hand to watch the game.
"Obviously I'm not quite there yet, but I can't really thank enough people,” he said. “It was brilliant to see the medical staff here and I can't really put into words to say how much to thank them. I don't really know what you can say.”
While it was a night to remember for Forster, he confirmed the plan is not to rush back towards first-team action, with more appearances for the under-21s still likely to come before that.
"It's stage by stage, one day at a time,” he said. “We've done everything correctly for the last nine months and not rushed. We’ve done it step by step and that's how we'll continue to the end. There's no rush. I just want to make sure I get it right and when that day comes it will come.
"It will be good to play a few more 90 minutes, get that under my belt and just go from there, but like I said we're looking step by step, day by day and we'll see where it takes us.”