Belfast Telegraph

Roy Carroll races to third game in five days due to FA Cup love affair

By Steven Beacom

Roy Carroll is relishing the prospect of playing his THIRD game in just FIVE days tomorrow.

So much for footballers needing rest and recuperation!

The Notts County goalkeeper will line out in the FA Cup first round at Accrington Stanley on Tuesday night after being praised by all and sundry at his club for his commitment to the cause over the weekend.

The 37-year-old was between the sticks on Friday evening for Northern Ireland in the 2-0 defeat to Romania in Bucharest. But that didn't stop him playing for County the following afternoon at Coventry in a 1-0 victory keeping the Magpies in the League One play-off places and in competition for promotion.

It was a sterling effort from the Fermanagh man, who had taken a 6am flight (English time) back from Romania to London on Saturday morning before driving up the M1 to play for the Nottingham outfit.

Not a problem to Carroll, who declared the 1700 mile trip was well worth it.

He had not forgotten that during the summer, without a club having been five years away from England after successful spells in Denmark and Greece, Notts County boss Shaun Derry came calling when others didn't fancy taking a chance.

"For me, playing for Notts County back in the English league is fantastic," said the ex-Manchester United and West Ham number one.

"In the summer nobody was interested in me and Shaun Derry gave me an opportunity to come back to England and it's a great pleasure for me to come back here and play for Notts County."

Carroll is excelling at the club, just as he has done for his country in the last three years since Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill brought him out of the international wilderness.

He has been a key figure for Northern Ireland in their Euro 2016 finals qualification bid.

Club boss Derry says he is comfortably the best goalkeeper in League One and at the weekend Notts County chairman Ray Trew hailed his attitude as going 'well above the call of duty' to play against Coventry.

Tomorrow Carroll will re-ignite his love affair with the FA Cup.

He won a winners medal coming on as a substitute in 2004 when Manchester United beat Millwall 3-0 in the decider and started against Arsenal the following year when the Gunners won on penalties at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

"I've always loved the FA Cup. It's one of the biggest competitions in the world and when I was growing up I dreamt of playing in it so to get a chance to play in the FA Cup again is something I'm really looking forward to," said Carroll, who caught up on some sleep yesterday.

Belfast Telegraph