Southampton’s first Premier League victory of the season will allow Alex McCarthy to relish his time in the England set-up.
The goalkeeper’s fine form amid what had been their challenging start to the season was last week rewarded with a call-up to the senior squad, and he took encouragement from that to repeatedly deny Crystal Palace during Saturday’s 2-0 win at his former club.
Beyond the established Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland there remains a vacancy for a third goalkeeper to consistently make Gareth Southgate’s selection, and the 28-year-old McCarthy hopes to take advantage of his involvement in the coming fixtures with Spain and Switzerland to do that.
His future as Southampton’s first-choice had been threatened by the summer arrival of the promising Angus Gunn, but he has also responded to that latest challenge, and after their three points eased the pressure in his club career, he said: “I was looking forward to (this) week. But I knew I needed to perform to get the three points and make (it) more enjoyable, so thankfully that happened.
“Growing up, you want to represent your country. Especially with the international break now it’s a massive boost for everyone going into that with three points.
“I’ll hopefully have a good week’s training and see what happens (in the future with England).
“We have a tight school of goalkeepers here (at Southampton) and the competition is a positive thing, keeps everyone on their toes and pushing towards the next level. It doesn’t faze me at all and makes me more motivated.
“Obviously Jordan (Pickford’s) done really well; he had a really good World Cup but I’ve said all along the main thing for me is to concentrate on club football, keeping that number one shirt, and then whatever happens after that happens.”
McCarthy spent an unhappy year at Palace until joining Southampton in August 2016 having barely played for the club, and returned to Selhurst Park with a point to prove to his former employers.
“I came here, played a few games and got dropped (by Alan Pardew) for whatever reason,” he said. “It’s always a tough place to come, the fans get on your back here and they always back Palace so it was always going to be tough but we managed to stick together and grind out a result.
“It is a lot quieter without the (hardcore, Holmesdale Fanatics supporter group) there but obviously they are still noisy fans. But it is more noticeable without the drums there.”