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Jacob Carney open to extended Portadown stay as Manchester United stopper becomes fan favourite during loan spell

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Number one: Jacob Carney has left the bright lights of Old Trafford for Shamrock Park

Number one: Jacob Carney has left the bright lights of Old Trafford for Shamrock Park

PMAKER

Number one: Jacob Carney has left the bright lights of Old Trafford for Shamrock Park

Portadown fans know a good goalkeeper when they see one. From famous Irish League names such as Bobby Carlisle in the 1970s to Mickey Keenan, who straddled the '80s, '90s and 2000s' glory eras, then Tim Dalton and current assistant manager David Miskelly, many great No.1s have won admiration at Shamrock Park.

Even some whose longevity wouldn't come close to Keenan's 20-plus year association with the club have earned hero status, such as Sheffield Wednesday great Kevin Pressman and last season's American star Bobby Edwards.

Jacob Carney is just 20-years-old and only joined the Ports on loan from Manchester United in January, but he has gone some distance towards etching his name among those fan favourites.

Producing almost impossible saves, his dominance in the air and all-round quality have impressed all watchers - and frustrated opposition managers.

Swapping one of the world's biggest clubs for the Danske Bank Premiership might not be to everyone's liking, but Carney didn't think twice when offered the opportunity.

"My coach spoke to me and said that he thought it would be really good for me," Carney revealed.

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"Anything he says I more or less think 'OK, you know best', so I just did it and it has been good."

The coach he talks about is former Northern Ireland international Alan Fettis. Portadown fans of a certain age remember the ex-Ards goalkeeper for a stunning performance that almost threw a rather large spanner in the works as the club battled for their first league title win 31 years ago.

The pair joined United at the same time and have spent over a decade working together.

The latest test of Carney's credentials will come in a mid-Ulster derby battle with Glenavon at Mourneview Park tonight.

The bottom half of the Irish League may be considered a long way from the bright lights of Old Trafford but Carney has been impressed with the standard, particularly as the likes of Glenavon midfield duo Robert Garrett and Michael O'Connor, who have both won senior international caps, are the type of player he would never have come up against elsewhere.

"The level here is higher than where I've been on loan before. The players are better because you have lads who have played at high levels in England," he said.

"There are others who have maybe just not quite made it in England and others who have been in this league for a long time and are top players at this level."

As for the future, Portadown fans would love the opportunity to watch Carney from the stands next season.

"I'm not going to turn down any option if there is an opportunity to play," he said.


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