Fraser Forster looks to build on positive display against West Brom

It has been a difficult season to be an England goalkeeper.

Joe Hart had to flee to Italy after being unceremoniously dumped by his Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

Stoke star Jack Butland's hopes of cashing in on Hart's Serie A exile by taking his No.1 jersey have been thwarted by a serious knee injury, from which he only this week made his comeback.

Meanwhile, Fraser Forster, the other most likely heir to Hart's throne, has been dogged by a lack of consistency and uncharacteristic errors.

Forster's slump in fortunes from the previous two campaigns has been one of the main talking points among Southampton followers.

Some argue the giant Geordie has not been the same player since returning from his own long-term lay-off, although anyone who witnessed his one-man super show in last season's 0-0 draw at Arsenal would beg to differ.

While some of the criticism has been unfair given Southampton have maintained a good defensive record, you can also point to the lack of serious competition for his place in Claude Puel's lineup as a reason why Forster has perhaps become too comfortable and complacent.

Alex McCarthy was signed from Crystal Palace in the summer to put pressure on Forster but has been hampered by injuries, leaving veteran Stuart Taylor and on-loan Mouez Hansen to battle for the role as understudy.

The other more rational explanation for his struggles, however, can be traced back to the gaffe in Saints' 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace in December. There seemed little danger when the ball was knocked back to Forster inside his own six-yard box, but a miscued clearance later and the red-faced stopper was watching Christian Benteke dribble the ball over the line.

It was an incident that clearly knocked the stuffing out of Forster and he has rarely been at his commanding best since. Suddenly where he once attacked every aerial ball into his penalty area, there has been a reluctance to come off his line. Forster's wayward kicking has always been his Achilles' heel but since that mistake at Selhurst Park, his distribution has been particularly erratic.

The one area where standards have remained high has been Forster's shot stopping and this allowed him to take centre stage and rediscover some of his missing belief in the closing stages of last weekend's 1-0 win at West Brom.

After taking the lead through Jordy Clasie's excellent first half goal, Puel's men were clinging on for dear life in the closing stages. But as West Brom launched wave after wave of attacks in the dying minutes, Forster and his brave defence held firm. His two stoppage time saves to keep out Craig Dawson's fiercely struck volley and deny fellow defender Jonny Evans were as good as you will see.

As he left the pitch with his chest puffed out and head held high at the top of his 6-foot-7 frame, Forster was hoping a corner had been turned.

He may be required to recreate his Hawthorns heroics when Southampton welcome Manchester City to St Mary's on Saturday. But playing against the Premier League elite seems to bring out the best in Forster, who excelled in the 1-1 draw at the Etihad in the reverse fixture.

With numerous Three Lions squad members in both teams, Forster will be well aware England coach Gareth Southgate will be keeping a close eye on proceedings. So which Forster will take to the field -- the one who was so imperious at West Brom and the Emirates or the one who blundered so badly at Selhurst Park?