Belfast Telegraph

Young Glentoran stars need protection, says Carson

Stephen Carson likes the look of the young talent coming off the Glentoran production line but he knows it would be wrong to heap too much pressure on young shoulders.



Glentoran boss Scott Young has uncovered a few sparkling gems at The Oval but the youngsters are still learning what life is like at one of the country’s biggest football clubs.

Some of them might even get a taste of their first Big Two clash next weekend but for now they are listening to the wise words of experienced campaigners such as Carson and skipper Colin Nixon.

When the fans see talents such as Jim O’Hanlon, Martin Murray, Kyle Cherry and John McGuigan strut their stuff, they can look forward to the future with fresh optimism.

Perhaps these young players have the necessary DNA to smash Linfield’s dominance in the local game.

But former Coleraine favourite Carson knows the youngsters need to be nurtured in the right way, particularly in a tough, physical league like the Carling Premiership.

Young players have to learn quickly how to cope with the physical demands of the league and it can be a steep learning curve.

The 30-year-old Carson started his career at SPL giants Rangers so he knows how difficult it is learning how to swim when you’re hurled in at the deep end.

“The young players have been given great credit for their performances and their enthusiasm and I would agree with that,” said Carson who joined the Glens from the Bannsiders in the summer.

“But the important thing to remember in football, whether you are 21 or 31, you have to take each game as it comes in a physical league as there are big strong players here and you can’t have teams packed with young kids.

“It’s down to the manager to make the decision when he uses the youngsters and it can be difficult for them, but I must say that our boys have shown a tremendous enthusiasm and hopefully they can keep improving.

“The funny thing is that I worked alongside a lot of these boys in the County Antrim set-up at the Milk Cup so it’s strange being with them at the Glens.

“It’s all part of their footballing education and it’s up to the young players to grab their chance when it comes. It’s the manager’s job to determine when to use them and the senior players will give them all the help they need.”

Former Coleraine duo Carson and Darren Boyce — who will hope to score for the third consecutive game when the Glens host Donegal Celtic this afternoon — have bolstered the east-Belfast side’s attacking threat but Young’s men will be even more dangerous when Gary Hamilton returns to the first team.

The former Northern Ireland international has resolved his differences with Young, and Carson cannot wait to link up with the class act.

“Gary has been one of the best Irish League players for a number of years and it will be exciting playing alongside him,” added Carson who made 89 appearances for the Bannsiders.

“I would have played alongside Gary when I was younger so it will be great to link up again. He’s a quality player and every team would love to have him in their squad.”

Carson has performed well since pulling on a Glentoran jersey but he’s nowhere near in peak condition yet.

“I’m still building up my match fitness, as I’m a bit off the pace at the moment,” he admitted.

“Although we have got the two wins, which is a good start, we know we can play a lot better. Crusaders and Dungannon Swifts made it difficult for us but you’ve got to be up for a battle in every game.

“We will give teams the respect they deserve but we want to improve and there are a lot of things we can do better. Linfield will be many people’s favourites for the title but it’s too early to start judging teams, I think.”

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