'Lucky' Trevor Carson eyes summer return after cancer scare and DVT diagnosis
Northern Ireland goalkeeper Trevor Carson is hoping he could be back in action next season as he continues his recovery from deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
The 30-year-old Motherwell stopper's career was halted indefinitely at the end of November when a blood clot was discovered.
It came just a few days after he had played 90 minutes for Northern Ireland in their UEFA Nations League defeat to Austria, having made his long-awaited international debut earlier in 2018.
Lifting the lid on his ill-timed health scare, Carson revealed that he was originally told a cancer diagnosis was 90% certain after pain mounted during that international window.
"I was getting a little niggle in my arm, which was something I had never experienced before. I've had shoulder injuries but this built up over the week I was away with Northern Ireland," he told BBC Scotland.
"My mum knew something was up. She told me to go to A&E and after that I was in great hands at Wishaw General Hospital. They picked up on the clot and it had actually moved into my lung as well, so I got it at the right time. If I had waited another week or even a day, who knows what would have happened."
The Killyleagh man went on to explain how his initial aim was, understandably, to 'get healthy, to be alive, to be a father for my fiancee'.
Now that he's set to finish his treatment on May 25 - to be followed by scans to ensure the clot has gone from his shoulder and lung - he's hoping the ordeal will actually help to push the final years of his football career to greater heights.
"I'm a lot more grateful for what I've got now," he explained. "For a doctor to tell you he's 90% convinced you got cancer, it sort of makes you think. You take a lot of things for granted. Even on the football front, I've achieved a lot and enjoyed it. You take going and playing on a Saturday for granted but we're privileged and honoured.
"I'm really focused to get back and more hungry now than ever in terms of pushing on and playing at the highest level that I can.
"As much as I thought I was pushing myself before, I've trained 10 times harder now since I've been back in the gym. You've always got that extra in there, it's up to yourself to find it and bring it out."
But for now, caution is key, with his prescribed tablets bringing dangers of their own and meaning he is unable to take to the pitch no matter how well his gym sessions are going.
"I've been really lucky in my eyes," he continued. "A lot of people haven't been so lucky. I've tried to remain positive and it's definitely helped me. There have been times that I've got down but I've got great people around me at home, at the club - they pick me up. My mum's so protective - no matter what I do they tell me to be careful and not to fall off the treadmill. You can't live your life completely like that.
"I'm on tablets and at the hospital every other day, but I can't believe how much better I feel physically in the space of two months. At the time, I was probably emotionally drained. I was lethargic and had no energy but now I'm doing basically doing full training in the gym.
"It's actually a little bit frustrating because I don't feel injured and feel like I can play, but I know if I got a blow to the head it could be fatal, so the risk is certainly not worth taking.
"While I'm on these blood-thinning tablets, I can't do any contact sports at all. If I was to get a knock on the head, it wouldn't clot because my blood is so thin. Even if I bump my head around the house, I have to go straight to A&E to get it checked because it can be fatal. You play though a shoulder or ankle injury because the worst thing that's might happen is it might go again, but this could kill me."
Carson's return would be a significant boost to international boss Michael O'Neill as just one of his four senior goalkeepers are currently enjoying regular minutes at club level. That's 20-year-old Conor Hazard, who joined Partick Thistle on loan from Celtic last month.
Aside from Carson's lay-off, Michael McGovern hasn't played a league game for Norwich since April 2017 while Leeds' Bailey Peacock-Farrell was ousted from the Leeds line-up with the signing of Real Madrid stopper Kiko Casilla.
Belfast Telegraph Digital