Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett has backed Adam Bartlett to step up to the plate, after it was confirmed that ex-Sunderland keeper Trevor Carson is facing up to six months on the sidelines.
Yesterday brought the devastating news that Carson will have to go under the knife to rectify a long-standing shoulder problem, which has blighted him since last season.
As a result, the Northern Irishman will miss the rest of the season.
The news comes as a bitter blow to Hignett. But one man’s misfortune is another’s opportunity.
And Hignett believes understudy Bartlett has the talent to grasp his Pools chance with both hands.
“Adam is a great back-up, comfortable and confident and when he saves a shot it sticks. He has been pushing Trevor hard and deserves the chance,” said the manager.
“I’ve never lost any faith in him, even though he was in goal at Stevenage (in September’s 6-1 defeat) and we were a shambles with a patched-up defence. A lot of things were wrong in that game.
“I’ve said to Barts, this is a great opportunity for him and his big chance. I know he will take it. Obviously it’s a blow to lose him, but Adam is a more than capable understudy and now he’s got the chance to come in and be our number one.
“There’s no worry from me on that front.”
Pools host Grimsby in League Two tomorrow, looking for a double against the Mariners (3pm).
Having missed Monday’s draw at Accrington, Carson was sent to see a specialist in Liverpool with club head physio Ian Gallagher on Thursday.
And having examined the problem, it became clear that he must have an exploratory operation.
Speaking to the club website, Gallagher explained: “Trevor will have surgery two weeks today and could be out for up to six months afterwards.
“It’s an exploratory operation where the surgeon will go in, find the damage and then repair what he sees, but it’s very likely he will now be missing for the rest of the season.
“Credit to Trevor, he’s been putting up with a lot of pain for quite some time now and he’s been determined to play in every game, but it’s got to the point where we’ve had to do something about it.
“He’s such a professional and shown his commitment by getting out there and playing when others wouldn’t have, but enough is enough now and this surgery is the only option.”
Hignett puts the delay in getting the op down to Carson’s international ambitions.
He said: “He’s played with the injury for a long time now.
“Last game against Morecambe, he couldn’t go on any more and we covered it well.
“Last season, he should have had it done in the summer, but put it off as he hoped to play in the Euros for Northern Ireland. It’s got the stage where we have to get it fixed.”