Playing to a handful of people in Dingwall on a Monday night was already a surreal experience for Motherwell keeper Trevor Carson. Having it as his first competitive match in 21 months just added to the odd circumstances he found himself in.
The Northern Irish international made his return to the Well starting XI in the 1-0 defeat to Ross County on matchday one. He hadn’t played since a DVT diagnosis following a match with Rangers and international duty in 2018, unable to dislodge Mark Gillespie, who’s now at Newcastle United, as number one last term.
His career was in jeopardy but now he’s ready to show the form that saw him claim the Well’s clean sheet record in 2017/18. Gillespie’s departure to Newcastle has provided him that opportunity and he can’t wait to get going, backing his former teammate to do well south of the border.
“Obviously the result was disappointing but on a personal note the game did me the world of good and I know I will kick on from there,” Carson said of his return. “Mark didn’t give me a sniff last season and got his move to Newcastle, which he deserved. That tells you I didn’t have much of a chance but you can’t dwell on the past. It’s been tough and I’m looking to the future now.
“Since I was four or five, all I wanted to be was a footballer. Don’t get me wrong, there were testing days, the gaffer will tell you there were days where he had to pick me up. I’ve been used to being a number one-goalkeeper since I was maybe 20.
“But we are very lucky to have the job we have, there were days where I just had to give myself a shake and realise how fortunate we all are. That’s what keeps me going, and my family keeps me going. I have a great family circle around me and I want to make my kids proud so I have to give my all.”
His ‘biggest fan’
On his return to action Carson did well, making a few good saves and only being beaten from the spot. It was a new backline for him to work with too, having only played competitively with Liam Grimshaw prior to Monday’s match.
He even managed to pull out a save of the season contender to deny Ross Stewart a certain goal. Carson’s enjoying being back in the fold and working with his new backline, alongside trying to impress his ‘biggest fan.’
“My family were just relieved I got through it,” said Carson. “My grandpa is my biggest fan but I think he was on eggshells leading up to it. I think he was just glad I never threw one in or had a nightmare.
“I told them I’ve been out for a couple of years but I can still do it. It’s a big season for me, big opportunities here, in Europe and the international side. It’s important I get back to the form I showed two years ago.
“My grandpa says I should have held it (Ross Stewart’s shot) but it was one that did me the world of good. Going into the game I felt a bit different, I’ve never had nerves, but it was good to get some early touches and make positive contributions to the team.
“I watched Declan Gallagher last season and couldn’t wait to play behind him. Apart from the first shaky first 15-20 minutes I was really well protected and didn’t touch the ball in my hands, just distribution. We were punished for that one slight mistake.”
“We’ve got a very experienced keeper in Scott Fox and I know if I’m not at my game the manager won’t hesitate to put him in. It’s important we are all at it.”
Meanwhile, manager Stephen Robinson has spoken on the virus protocols. A major talking point all summer, they have been thrust firmly into the limelight after Aberdeen’s positive tests. It has caused the postponement of their match with St Johnstone this weekend.
Just hours prior to the Steelmen’s Dundee United match this afternoon, the Fir Park club themselves have been hit with the reality of the situation. A player is now having to self-isolate for seven days following a false-positive virus test. One test initially confirmed he had caught the virus, but two follow-ups prove the contrary.
Speaking on Friday prior to the United match, Robinson is adamant Motherwell are doing all they can to ensure virus safety at Fir Park as he insists a football clubs are amongst some of the safest environments currently.
“We test two or three times a week and are doing more than any other people in society really,” Robinson said. “Unfortunately we can’t control what people really do outside of football. If somebody is positive we have the protocols in place to deal with that.
“We’re trying our very best. I believe Aberdeen have done everything in their power, and I genuinely believe Scottish football is doing everything in their power to make sure the protocols are followed. We remind them constantly. My WhatsApp messages are very clear to the boys. There will be positives tests but that’s just the way of the world. It’s something we are going to have to live with.
“There’s certainly no safer environments. I’m being told people on the frontline in the NHS are only getting tested if they are symptomatic. We’re getting tested two-three times a week. We can’t do any more. It’s the sacrifice Scottish football is making and I think it needs to be credited for it, not vilified.”