England goalkeeper Fraser Forster nears a return to action with Southampton
Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster is nearing the end of his long injury absence after returning to training last week.
The England international, 27, has not played since undergoing surgery on his knee in March and there were initial fears that he may be forced to miss an entire year with the issue.
However, Saints boss Ronald Koeman revealed in November that Forster may only be around a month away from coming back to training and the Dutchman confirmed at his press conference on Thursday that Forster had now participated in drills alongside the club's fellow keepers.
"Fraser is back in some sessions last week but needs still more time to be ready," he said. "He did some parts of the sessions with the rest of the goalkeepers."
If everything goes to plan, a first-team return for the former Celtic stopper could come in January, when the transfer window reopens and Koeman can add to a squad that has failed to win any of the past four fixtures.
The Southampton manager does not expect to be overly active next month, although he once again reiterated the likes of Sadio Mane and Victor Wanyama will not be leaving St Mary's, while he also hinted that he may target attacking reinforcements in addition.
Saints have only scored four times in their past five contests and striker Jay Rodriguez could still be four weeks away from a return to full training following foot surgery.
"We are looking, always we are looking at what we can do to make the squad stronger than we have," said Koeman.
"It's not about doing many changes in the team. If we need somebody I think it will be an offensive player and the rest I think we have good competition in our squad. We know that nobody is for sale."
Southampton's summer spending was dwarfed by plenty in the division, but Koeman stressed there was a cause for their prudence.
"If we don't spend that money, it has a reason," he said.
"It's all about money. It's not that we don't spend that money and we keep £50million and we don't touch that money. No, we do the best and we do the maximum to get the best squad that we can.
"If other teams have more money, it's okay for them. But we can't compare that because that's about the financial situation of every club. If they spend more - maybe they have the money, maybe not and they will have a problem in the future.
"We work like Southampton and we know we have enough clever people in the board of the club to make that finance decision - what is possible and what is not possible."