Trevor Carson has revealed he is forcing himself to play through the pain barrier for Hartlepool United.
That’s because he fears it could be a long old season, should he allow good friend Adam Bartlett a run in Craig Hignett’s first-team.
Carson has gone against medical advice to rest up, after dislocating his little finger in the 2-0 win over former club Cheltenham Town recently. Instead the goalie has gritted his teeth and kept his place between the sticks for the losses at Wycombe and Doncaster, as well as the win over Accrington Stanley.
While the pain of his injury is very real, Carson thinks losing his place in the Pools’ XI would hurt a lot more.
And he is not about to give pal Bartlett a shot at first-team football anytime soon.
Carson fears that if he did, Bartlett has the ability to keep him out of the side for the rest of the season.
“I fear being dropped,” said Carson.
“I have never had that happen in my career. I don’t want that to happen.
“I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about it every day. It spurs me on.
“Barts is as good as any keeper in this league. He would walk into most teams at this level.
“It is good for us that we have two players who can play in goal and do a job for Hartlepool United.
“The competition is great. Me and Barts get on really well. He must be kicking his heels at times this year.
“He has come in and done well when he has had his chance.
“I see it every day in training - it is frightening how good he is.
“That keeps me on my toes. I know if I make a mistake he will be ready to come in.”
The finger injury not only ended his game against Cheltenham, it also saw a dream go up in smoke.
Any hopes Carson had of making his Northern Ireland debut also went down the drain.
But the keeper is determined to not let such a small injury have an impact on the rest of his season.
“I like to be out there every day. It is not in my character to not be out there,” he said.
“You feel a bit awkward because you can’t be out with an injury to your little finger.
“But as a goalkeeper it is the most important finger. It is the one that grips it.
“I have to go out on a weekend knowing it is going to be painful. But that is what I have to do.
“I have had a few niggles in the last few months but as a player it is what you get through.
“The thought of Barts coming in and doing well drives me on.
“I was told I had to give it a rest for a full week but I came back against Doncaster.
“On the Friday it was no good but the manager gave me to as late as possible to be fit. I went home on the evening to think about it and all I could imagine was Barts coming in and doing well.
“Then it would be a long old season for me. That is why I had to play.
“,Man up and get on with it, was what I thought.
“It is sore but I have to just get on with it.”