PAVEL Srnicek feels Newcastle United missed a trick with Fraser Forster – by selling the goalkeeper too early.
Forster is set to make his first appearance against Newcastle on Saturday, two years after the club sold him to Celtic for £2m.
The 26-year-old is now a Southampton player, having joined the Saints in the summer for around £10m.
Former Czech Republic goalkeeper Srnicek was in goal for Newcastle during Kevin Keegan’s era of the mid-1990s, and returned to the club in 2006 to end his career.
He made two appearances for United in the 2006-07 season before retiring, and worked with both Forster and Tim Krul during that time.
Both were 18, but showed enough signs of their ability to convince Srnicek they would make it to the top.
The duo both played at the summer’s World Cup in Brazil, with Krul in Holland’s squad and Forster part of the English contingent.
However, after Krul was preferred to Forster at St James’s Park, the Hexham-born stopper was forced to prove himself away from Tyneside.
After loan spells at Stockport County, Bristol Rovers and Norwich City, Forster spent two years at Celtic before joining them on a permanent deal in 2012.
For Srnicek, letting the goalkeeper go at that stage was a mistake on Newcastle’s part, as he feels Forster has what it takes to go on to become England’s No.1.
He said: “When I joined Newcastle again in 2006, Krul and Forster looked very promising, and we all knew it.
“For me, they sold Fraser too early.
“They should have kept him a while longer, because now he looks like being the best English goalkeeper in the future.
“If he was still a Newcastle player, he could make the club more money or even be playing for the club.”
Srnicek competed with several goalkeepers during his time at St James’s Park.
The likes of Shaka Hislop, John Burridge, Tommy Wright, Mike Hooper, Shay Given and Steve Harper all came and went during Srnicek’s two spells on Tyneside, meaning competition for places was fierce.
Srnicek feels it would have been possible for Forster and Krul to co-exist at Newcastle, just like he did with several rivals at the club.
He added: “Tim has done a great job as well, but having two goalkeepers like that, even if one is somewhere on loan, is important.
“One day, one of them could get injured, or a good offer could come in and he is sold.
“It was a hard thing for Forster to be sold.”