ROY’S TIED UP WITH NOTTS...

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Paddy von Behr

A GLIT­TER­ING op­por­tu­nity lies in wait for Roy Car­roll this sum­mer but the vet­eran stop­per has no in­ten­tion of tak­ing his eye off the ball at Meadow Lane.

Notts County keeper Car­roll is in an un­usual po­si­tion, ply­ing his trade in the fourth tier of English foot­ball yet hop­ing to play his way onto the plane for Euro 2016.

Fo­cused

The for­mer Manch­ester United goal­keeper was part of the North­ern Ire­land squad that se­cured qual­i­fi­ca­tion to their first ma­jor tour­na­ment since 1986.

At 38 and in the twi­light of his ca­reer, Car­roll could be for­given for look­ing ahead to play­ing on the big stage against some of the world’s best next sum­mer.

But the 41-times capped in­ter­na­tional is keen to stay fo­cused on club mat­ters be­fore then and is tak­ing a down-to-earth ap­proach.

“Of course I am look­ing for­ward to the Eu­ros but if I don’t play well for Notts County, then I won’t get into the team,” he said.

“My aim is to get us up to League One – that is what I’m try­ing to do.”

But Car­roll is proud to have helped North­ern Ire­land to the fi­nals – and be­lieves there’s no rea­son why League Two play­ers shouldn’t be con­sid­ered for in­ter­na­tional ac­tion.

“It has been a long, long time since we’ve qual­i­fied for a ma­jor tour­na­ment,” he said. “It is a great achieve­ment and ex­cel­lent for the North­ern Ire­land fans who travel all over Europe.

“I think if you are good enough and you are play­ing well for your club, then you are good enough.

“It doesn’t mat­ter if you are in League Two or the Scot­tish Premier­ship – if you are good enough to play for North­ern Ire­land, then you should play. We aren’t the big­gest coun­try in the world.

“We have got a few play­ers play­ing in the Premier League – it’s a good mix­ture. I think it’s all down to the team spirit.

“To get on that plane for the sum­mer would be great, I just have to keep play­ing well for Notts County.”

Af­ter drop­ping down from League One last sea­son, the pres­sure was on the Mag­pies and man­ager Ri­cardo Moniz to bounce straight back up again. One win from their first five league games was an eye-opener.

“We had a very tough start to the sea­son,” said Car­roll. “We had a lot of play­ers com­ing in and a lot of changes but we are set­tled now and we have picked up a lot of points.

“The man­ager has kept the same team and things are look­ing good at the mo­ment but there is still a long way to go. It’s a tough league.”

Blow

Last week’s FA Cup exit at the hands of Non-League out­fit Sal­ford City was a ham­mer blow, but their league form has, un­de­ni­ably, im­proved.

Notts are un­beaten in each of their last four league out­ings, con­ced­ing just twice in the process. In their last league game two weeks ago, they beat high-fly­ing Portsmouth 2-1 at home.

Ahead of the week­end pro­gramme, they were down in 15th place, but only four points off the play-off places.

Car­roll has played his

part but he’s happy to share the credit with de­fend­ers Mike Ed­wards – also the club’s strength and con­di­tion­ing coach – and Alan Shee­han, who re­joined the Mag­pies on loan from Brad­ford in Septem­ber.

“No mat­ter what coun­try or league you play in, you want to try and keep a set­tled back four and keep clean sheets, and we have kept two in four league games,” he added. “It gives peo­ple be­lief.

“We have Mike Ed­wards, the fit­ness coach, at cen­tre­half and he has been fan­tas­tic for us since he came in, and Alan has done well, too.

“He wants the ball from the back and he talks a lot to the back line – that’s what we Ir­ish peo­ple do! It’s great to have an­other guy in there, talk­ing to the back line. Hope­fully we can keep him for an­other few months.”

PIC­TURE: Me­dia Im­age & Ac­tion Im­ages

STILL GOT IT: Notts County goal­keeper Roy Car­roll pulls off a point-blank save against Don­caster and, inset, in North­ern Ire­land kit

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