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Third time lucky

COLERAINE winger Josh Carson will hope its a case of third time lucky as we approach this weekend’s BetMcLean League Cup final…

The Antrim man failed to make the Linfield squad that defeated the Bannsiders in the 2017 Irish Cup final, before being suspended a year later as Coleraine ended their 15-year trophy drought by defeating Cliftonville in the same competition.

Speaking ahead of the first major final of the season, Carson is hoping to finally break his duck and appear in a showpiece decider.

“Yes, it’s been very frustrating for me when it comes to cup finals,” he admitted.

“It hasn’t worked out for one reason or another, although the Irish Cup one was my own doing.

“These things happen but I’m buzzing and excited now. I can’t wait to get going – touch wood – as long as I do nothing stupid. I’m relishing the chance to play in a cup final.

“I remember two years ago, me, Lyndon and James at the time together – James with his cruciate, Lyndon with his foot and me suspended.

“As much as we were buzzing for the rest of the guys, it was soul-destroying having to watch and not be a part of it.

“Thankfully, this time, all three of us are back to full fitness and ready to rock which is fantastic.”

A few would have expected Coleraine to be competing on all three fronts as we enter the business end of the season, but for Carson, who earned four senior caps for Northern Ireland, he cites the return of Oran Kearney as playing a major role in the Bannsiders’ revival.

“Thankfully, Oran is back now and everything is going the way the football club should be,” he continued.

“I think if we can keep the ball rolling, try and be as consistent as we can, added with the two great additions to the team, it’s only going to improve us and make us better.

“Looking around the squad you always plan out in your head where you could see this team being and we always see ourselves up there challenging.

“We should always be knocking on the big hitters’ doors and try and stand in their patch and do what they do because when you start the season you want to go as far as possible and win as many football matches as you can.

“It’s all about taking it game by game and seeing where you end up.

“It’s no coincidence that we are beating the likes of Glentoran, Crusaders and Linfield because we are doing well and showing we can mix it with the big boys.

“We are a so-called top six team by right now, so at the start of the season I could see us trying to get back to where we were before Oran left and hopefully we can be there for the next four, five and six years.”

Despite not possessing a large squad depth like other clubs in the top six, the 26-year-old believes this actually works in the Bannsiders favour as there are no egos in the changing room.

“The money part of football is crucial and it’s massive,” he concluded.

“You look at the likes of Glentoran, Linfield, Crusaders and Larne who have massive squads and loads of players to choose from, whereas when you look at us, we have about 16 or 17 players week in and week out.

“We use that to our advantage and I think it helps us as players.

“We’ve no cliques or separate groups going different ways, or people only speaking to certain players because they travel together, there’s nothing like that at all.

“We are all in it together and I think that’s crucial to go and try and be successful and get to that next stage.”