Coleraine feared they were going to lose one of the league’s best players when Stephen Carson pondered a move to Australia this summer, but manager David Platt is relieved to see his star man in a blue and white jersey.
Carson will face Linfield this afternoon and the Bannsiders faithful can breathe a collective sigh of relief after the winger appeared close to joining A-League side Newcastle United Jets FC.
Platt says the ‘will he?, won’t he?’ issue has been put to bed and now the future is looking bright for a team which is aiming to improve on their fifth place finish last season.
“No team would want to lose a player of Stephen’s quality, especially as we are trying to build for the future,” said Platt.
“He has proved in every game how talented he is and his excellent form with Coleraine earned him a Northern Ireland call-up.
“The matter has been put to bed and I am very excited about the ability and potential I can see in this squad.”
Platt has strengthened the squad with the signings of Rory Patterson, Michael Hegarty, Marc Mukendi and Aaron Canning.
And excitement has reached fever pitch about a new season which also includes a Setanta Sports Cup adventure.
Former FC United striker Patterson is being widely tipped to serve up plenty of goals at the Showgrounds after looking sharp in pre-season.
“I’m hoping to see the goals go in from all over the park though Rory scored 10 goals in four games and missed a few chances as well,” added Platt.
“Jody Tolan is back among the goals as is Darren Boyce and Richard Gibson while David McClements is back fit again.”
The Bannsiders, though, will not be at full strength for the visit of David Jeffrey’s side.
Paddy McLaughlin and John Neill are both serving suspensions while Howard Beverland is unavailable after picking up an injury on Milk Cup duty with the Northern Ireland squad.
It’s a daunting early test for Platt and his men but no-one in the north-west will shirk the challenge. Coleraine embarrassed Linfield at Windsor last season and that surprise result will be at the front of minds.
“There is no good time to play Linfield, but the league is getting tougher every year and you just have to keep making progress,” added Platt. “Every team in the league is going to be fired up to make a superb start.”