Belfast Telegraph

Roy Carroll can come back from injury woe, insists former Northern Ireland team-mate

Roy Carroll
Roy Carroll

By Steven Beacom in the Sunday Life

Linfield goalkeeper Roy Carroll has a decision on his hands over whether his incredible career is over or not.

The Blues announced last Monday that Carroll would be out for the rest of the season after sustaining a cruciate ligament injury to his knee during Linfield’s crucial 1-0 Premiership victory over Crusaders at Seaview last month.

A few days later, Linfield brought in Northern Ireland Under-21 keeper Conor Mitchell on loan from Burnley to fight it out with Gareth Deane in the months ahead.

The 41-year-old from Fermanagh is coming to terms with that crushing disappointment but now must determine if he wants to try and play on once he has recovered.

It is understood the Northern Ireland great was due to speak to a specialist this week before making a call on what happens next.

Given his excellent form this season, which has helped take the Blues to the top of the table, there was a sense that Carroll could comfortably carry on for another campaign but the injury has put that in serious doubt.

Carroll — renowned for his character to bounce back as much as for his class between the sticks ­— wants to find out when he could return to training and, if the process goes months into next season, he may opt to call it a day.

It is a massive blow to Linfield that Carroll is out for the remainder of the campaign and, for Irish League football in general, it would be a real pity if the ex-Manchester United, Rangers and Olympiakos goalkeeper had to quit this way.

Ideally he would like to go out on his own terms.

Former Northern Ireland team-mate Ivan Sproule would like to see Carroll given that opportunity.

“I know how much Roy loves football but at his age when you get an injury as bad as this one it can be difficult,” said Sproule, now manager of Bluefin Sport Championship side Dergview.

“With Roy though I wouldn’t be surprised if he did make a return.

“He has great character and could make a comeback. He’s also a great professional and has been a great goalkeeper over the years.

“For me, with his presence and the way he commands his box, he is the best goalkeeper in the Irish League. His injury is a big blow to Linfield for this season but hopefully we haven’t seen the end of Roy. It would be fantastic to see him back next season.”

Since arriving at Linfield, larger than life Carroll has won the Premiership crown, Irish Cup and County Antrim Shield. Prior to that, he was a title and Cup winner at both United and Olympiakos.

He has won 45 caps and was inspirational in Northern Ireland’s brilliant start to the successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

If he quits, going into coaching on a full-time basis is an option. Carroll has started his badges and surely with his experience the Irish FA would consider offering him a role.

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