Saints' Head of Goalkeeping Dave Watson has praised the strength and depth of his English quartet going into the new 2018/19 campaign.
Speaking from the base of the squad’s second pre-season training camp of the summer in Évian, Watson expressed his delight with the hard work put in over the past few weeks with new signing Angus Gunn and returning loanee Harry Lewis adding to the ranks.
The result has been a vibrant sense of competition within Saints’ goalkeeping department, a positive early sign for the season to come.
“The nice thing about the dynamic of this group is that they’re challenging each other and pushing each other every day, which is what I want because the standard will continue to improve," Watson said.
“I'm very fortunate to have four excellent English goalkeepers working here at the minute and it’s my job to keep on top of them and push them forward.”
The arrival of England youth international Gunn from Manchester City will no doubt play a key part in maintaining and indeed raising the high standards set in previous seasons.
“Alex played really well towards the end of the last season and had a big role in the team staying in the Premier League and he deserved to get his new contract.
“To be able to bring Angus to the club too and to get the support of the club to do that has been really positive, we need to keep pushing forwards and make sure that the department doesn’t stand still.
“Signing someone of Angus’s ability – a young English goalkeeper – is really exciting for me and the club and obviously we hope he’ll be a big signing for us in years to come.
“He’s certainly proven himself in his time with the England youth sides and Man City, he had a really good season on loan at Norwich last year which established him as a regular first-team player. Now he has come here to compete and he is hungry to do so.”
With pre-season preparations now in full flow with friendly meetings against Dijon, Celta Vigo and Borussia Monchengladbach to come in the next ten days, all four of Saints’ stoppers are on track to be ready for the new campaign.
“Angus is a little bit behind the other lads in terms of preparation since the deal wasn’t completed in time for him to join us for the two weeks in China.
“Nevertheless, we had a good week’s work at Staplewood last week; I didn’t feel he was quite ready to perform at Derby last weekend so if we have another good week here, he’ll certainly up for selection this coming weekend.
“We’re getting to the stage now where we’re trying to tick every box before we head into what will become more intensive game time for the lads. In pre-season it’s about building up slowly to make sure we’re ready for that final week before the new season.”