Belfast Telegraph

Why Trevor Carson's first cap would put his face on the Killyleagh wall of honour

Net gains: Trevor Carson in training
Net gains: Trevor Carson in training

By Graham Luney

Trevor Carson can sense that the long wait is over and the frustration is coming to an end. Northern Ireland's bridesmaid is finally ready to step into the spotlight and sparkle on the international stage.

His 30th birthday arrived this month but the Motherwell shot-stopper is still awaiting that first senior international cap.

Missed opportunities have come and gone but now the fight is on to become Northern Ireland's new No.1 for the inaugural Nations League.

Carson will make his senior international debut in the friendly against South Korea at Windsor Park on Saturday and the Killyleagh man is hungry to grasp it with both hands.

"Me and my family joke I'm cursed when it comes to Northern Ireland," said Carson.

"I just feel like any time I have been given a little chance I've had an injury and sometimes you just feel like I'm not getting any younger, and then you see others that have had caps.

"Getting a cap for your country is the ultimate and I still haven't got that.

"You look at others that have with past regimes when times weren't so good and it does eat away. For me it's just been a matter of staying patient, keep doing what I've been doing. I've always believed that it will come.

"I feel now I'm as close as I've been to my first cap and maybe it will come. I personally haven't been playing any better than I have the last four, five years but the fact I've been doing it at a higher standard in Scotland has boosted my profile.

"It's great. I get embarrassed when people praise me but it's great for your confidence.

"It's probably the first time I've come away with Northern Ireland and I've felt I've earned the call-up, I haven't been waiting on big Roy (Carroll) pulling out or Alan (Mannus) pulling out through injury. I feel like I'm here on merit and deserve to be here.

"That does give you a bit of confidence."

The writing is on the wall for Carson but of course he wants his face on the wall too.

In Killyleagh there is a wall mural created in 2006 by Deirdre McKenna and Tracey Gallaghy featuring David Healy, Hugh Henry Davey and Terry Cochrane.

Carson said: "We've been lucky for such a small town to have three internationals over the last 80, 90 years. It's something the little town is proud of.

"David Healy was obviously the last one. I think it was when he scored against England there was a massive thing of what can we do.

"They decided to paint this mural with the internationals on it. In the article they wrote they always said they'd leave a space for the next future international. There was a couple of us. I was playing, young Conor Brennan who's at Morton now, he was ready to go across the water. It's another incentive for me to make sure.

"It's just rubbed salt into the wounds because it's at the top of my mum's estate so I pass it every time I go home. You have to go down the hill and look at it.

"My missus is asking what's that mural!? If I have to go up and paint myself onto it, I will, honestly! It's another thing. For me I wouldn't care, just as long as I get a cap it would be an honour. I feel like I'm as close as I've ever been to it now so fingers crossed.

"If I make it on the wall, 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. There are bigger reasons than that."

Norwich City keeper Michael McGovern grabbed his chance to claim the No.1 jersey for Northern Ireland and Carson is inspired by the Enniskillen man.

"I said when I first moved to Scotland, Michael - I'm not being cheesy - was my inspiration," he said.

"My career has been a bit of a parallel to Michael's in terms of how it's gone.

"If I go on to have the same international career I'll be more than happy, he's been exceptional for us and rightly so he's our No.1 goalkeeper.

"He's in a position now where he's not playing games but he's earned that life-changing move to Norwich. That's what I want, I want that big move.

"No disrespect to Motherwell, where I'm at now, but no player in that Motherwell dressing room is happy to be at Motherwell the rest of their career. You want another big step and I'm the same as that.

"Michael's a great example for me personally to look at how quickly things can change. Michael played against Scotland and did well and I think the manager took that and thought, 'I can trust this boy'. He needed a little break, he got it when Roy got ill and he hasn't looked back since.

"Everything happens for a reason, I haven't had my debut in the past and for me it's a positive because this year I've been playing against Celtic and big crowds in the SPL.

"All the indications are that there's a chance that I might get my debut this week. I'm just staying focused and if the chance does arise, whether I get 20 minutes, a half, whatever, I'll be ready."

Trevor Carson factfile

Full name: Trevor Carson

Born: March 5, 1988

Age: 30

Height: 6ft

Youth career: Sunderland

Other clubs: Chesterfield (loan), Lincoln City (loan), Brentford (loan), Bury (loan), Hull City (loan), Bury, Portsmouth (loan), Cheltenham Town, Hartlepool United.

Current club: Motherwell, signed a three-year contract last June.

Appearances: 37

Career total: 295

International honours: Northern Ireland U17, U18, U19, U20, U21 and B international. In January 2013 he was called up to the full Northern Ireland squad for the game with Malta but was forced to withdraw with a broken finger.

Transfer speculation: Celtic made multiple bids in an attempt to lure Carson to Parkhead before the close of the January transfer window but Motherwell rejected them.

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