IT’S the curious case of the disappearing goalkeeper.

Just where is Fraser Forster?

The 30-year-old was the firm first choice at Saints this time last year and retained hopes of forcing his way back into the England reckoning. 

That was until Tottenham away on Boxing Day.

Some 344 days later Saints will return to face Spurs at Wembley but Forster will be absent.

The 5-2 festive hammering was to prove his last game for Saints to date, and there appears no chance of him forcing his way back not only into the team but the squad.

Forster’s fall from grace is one of the most spectacular witnessed at Saints in recent times.

To go from being the undisputed number one to somebody seldom seen is quite remarkable.

Alex McCarthy’s step up to the first team did for Forster in the short term, and in the longer term the summer recruitment of Angus Gunn pushed him further down the pecking order.

But, with Saints keen to try and promote youth, Forster hasn’t even been travelling with the squad as the third choice keeper.

And, so, what exactly is he doing?

Being a professional footballer and working Monday-Friday must be a very odd experience as Forster trains to keep himself in shape all the while knowing that he has no prospect of playing unless he leaves the club.

Of course, part of the problem comes thanks to the fact that Saints offered him a huge new five-year deal in 2017.

It doesn’t say a lot for the foresight of the club that it was only 160 days between Forster putting pen to paper on a contract reported to be worth anything from £60,000-£70,000 a week and that dismal day against Tottenham.

Like so many players that end up on big contracts and out of favour – and emphasised for a goalkeeper where there is just one spot to play for – it also adds to the problem.

You could scarcely blame Forster for not wanting a move if it would mean a significant pay cut. He signed that deal in good faith, knowing it would secure his financial future, and Saints have no choice other than to honour it.

To try and conjure up a move that would be acceptable to him has proven impossible thus far.

The club have said that there were approaches in the summer but nothing that Forster felt was right for him. 

Whether this was a pay issue, or more about where and at what level he was prepared to go to has never been confirmed.

For Saints the chance to shift wages would be welcome, but, as with Sofiane Boufal and Guido Carrillo, you fancy they would end up subsidising a loan move anyway.

As Saints play at Wembley again tonight Forster may well reflect on where it all went wrong after a year of footballing isolation.