Trevor Carson would love a place in the Euro 2016 finals.
The keeper will be striving every inch of the way until May in a bid to impress Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill that he is worthy of a spot in the Irish 23 for France.
The last thing I want is another relegation, it’s a horrible experience.Trevor Carson
But there is one thing he would like more than anything - a climb up the League Two table with Hartlepool United.
Pools start 2016 down in 21st place in the division as they head to a Newport County side just one position better off.
Admittedly, the placing is much better than this time last year, but Carson has warned Pools that the time to start winning again is NOW.
Twelve months ago, the 27-year-old was the last line of defence for Cheltenham Town.
The Robins had ended 2015 in 19th place in the table on 25 points after 23 games, only to go on the slide, finishing the season 23rd on 41 points.
Despite the best efforts of Carson, who was player of the season, Cheltenham were relegated.
He does not want to go through the same scenario with Pools.
“I’ve spoken to the lads a couple of times about this,” Carson told SportMail.
“I don’t want to come across as negative but we have lost a lot of games and you can’t hide away from that.
“At Cheltenham, we got on a poor run, and given that experience I’m determined to make sure it does not happen here.
“The last thing I want is another relegation, it’s a horrible experience.
“If you get on a bad run, we found this out at Cheltenham, it’s hard to get out of.”
Carson identified the sacking of the manager and too many January signings as two of the principal issues which affected the Robins.
While the former Sunderland stopper would like Pools boss Ronnie Moore to bring in new players, he wants “quality” rather than quantity.
“Cheltenham changed the manager, which didn’t help, then too many changes were made to the squad,” he explained.
“I think we went through 49 players.
“Now, I’m not trying to tell the manager his job, but I think we need a bit of quality here.
“I believe we have a good core of players, I don’t think we need a mass of changes, may be just one or two.
“Last year at Cheltenham I think we brought in six before the January transfer window closed and it was too many.
“We are on a bad run here but I think we’ll be more than OK, one or two players can help us turn it around.”
Carson expects a tough test at Newport but is “more than confident” Pools can triumph at Rodney Parade despite the upturn in the Welsh club’s fortunes under John Sheridan.
And he thinks the opening of the transfer window can act as a spur to the Pools squad.
“Newport have appointed a new manager and picked up points, but I’m sure we can win there,” he said.
“But we can’t afford to have five or six lads under-performing.
“Hopefully, all the lads know the manager is looking to bring in players and that we are playing for our positions.
“That should be another incentive.”
One incentive for Carson is Euro 2016 in France where his beloved Northern Ireland have qualified for their first major finals since 1986.
At present, the man from Downpatrick is outside the frame having lost his spot in the squad at the start of the season.
“I was supposed to be in the squad for the matches in August but I broke my toe and lost my place,” he said.
“I’ve not realy heard anything since and it looks like I’m going to be relying on an injury or a loss of form to get back in.
“It’s not a nice thought but that’s probably where I am at the moment
“The goalkeeping coach, I think, has been to watch me once this season and I would not have been surprised had someone been there on Boxing Day with big Roy [Carroll] in the Notts County goal.
“I’m probably down at number four at the minute and only three will be going to France.
“I have to make sure I perform to my best in case someone was to suffer a dip in form or suffer an injury.
“We’ll see what happens but at the moment my priority is Hartlepool United and hopefully we can turn this form around.”