Thursday 26 April 2018

Carson keen to draw on past experience

Northern Ireland defender Jonny Evans turns his hand to hurling during the launch of Sport Uniting Communities – a collaboration project between the Irish FA, Ulster GAA and Ulster rugby
Northern Ireland defender Jonny Evans turns his hand to hurling during the launch of Sport Uniting Communities – a collaboration project between the Irish FA, Ulster GAA and Ulster rugby

Liam Blackburn

Trevor Carson cast aside holiday plans and shopping catalogues when a Celtic move failed to materialise, but after Saturday the journeyman Northern Irish goalkeeper may finally get to bring out his paint brush.

In Carson's hometown of Killyleagh, at the top of his mother's estate, is a mural depicting the village's international footballers - David Healy, Terry Cochrane and Hugh Henry Davey - along with a question mark and space for the next to represent their country.

When the mural went up in 2006, the theory was Carson, a Northern Ireland youth international who had already been on Sunderland's bench at 17, would soon be on there.

Twelve years on, the space remains unoccupied. Carson has made a handful of squads but has never won a cap.

That will change on Saturday when Northern Ireland host South Korea if Michael O'Neill gives the 30-year-old his debut as a reflection of his brilliant form at Motherwell.

"If I have to go up and paint myself onto it, I will, honestly," joked Carson.

"Hopefully I'm better looking than what I am in real life. I've got more important reasons to want my first cap - the sacrifices I've made over the years as a boy, the ups and downs I've had in football … a painting on the wall is not the ultimate for me."

It was the pursuit of international recognition that led Carson to make financial and personal sacrifices this summer when, at the 11th hour, he rejected a more-lucrative offer to stay at Hartlepool near to where his young daughter is.

Carson instead joined Motherwell in the hope Scotland's top flight would give him a bigger platform to showcase his ability.

"It's probably the main reason I went up to Scotland, to get back in Michael's mind," he admitted.

"He said to me when I was playing in League Two that I needed to be playing at a higher standard.

"I haven't been playing any better than I have last four, five years but the fact I've been doing it at a higher standard in the Scottish Premiership has boosted my profile."

Irish Independent

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