Fulham boss Scott Parker believes a recall to the France squad for on-loan goalkeeper Alphonse Areola would be “nothing short of what he deserves”.
Areola, who joined Fulham on a year-long deal from Paris St Germain in September having had a similar spell at Real Madrid last season, has produced some impressive displays for the relegation-battling Cottagers.
Fulham have kept seven clean sheets in the Premier League this season, of which three have come in their last four games – against high-flying West Ham and Everton, as well as fellow strugglers Sheffield United.
Areola also earned his manager’s praise for a stand-out performance during January’s goalless draw with Brighton, and Parker believes a return to the international arena would be just reward for the 27-year-old if he continues in this vein.
“His first season here in English football was always a challenge, especially for a keeper,” said Parker, whose club have the option to make Areola’s move permanent.
“It’s a difficult position to come into joining a new league and he has played fantastic to be honest with you.
“My main aim, my focus for Alphonse is to keep improving and playing the way he is playing and if France come calling then it will be unbelievable for Alphonse and nothing short of what he deserves.”
Areola has made just three appearances for the French national team, all of which came in the year after he was an unused member of their 2018 World Cup-winning squad.
The 6ft 5in goalkeeper has been a commanding presence behind Fulham’s back line this season, and his adaption to the physicality of the Premier League has not surprised Parker.
“To be fair before he came to the club we looked at it and thought what do we need. And certainly in this moment physicality, presence, bravery as a keeper in terms of all those attributes was something that me and Rob (Burch, goalkeeping coach) highlighted really,” he said.
“And looking at Alphonse and his stature and games he has played, I had no doubt that was what he was. A very aggressive keeper, a front-foot keeper who wants to come and command his box, come and collect.
“Physically very very big, agile. They were all the areas we looked at and they were the areas he ticked those boxes, and that was exactly what we need and we’ve not been shocked in any way by that.
“If anything, it’s just proved even more so that when he has come in, what we see daily and what we see in games is exactly that so he has been very good.”