Boot cleaner Josh is living the dream

JOSH Carson, the manager’s chief boot cleaner, is living the dream of playing alongside his country’s skipper.

JOSH Carson, the manager’s chief boot cleaner, is living the dream of playing alongside his country’s skipper.

The Ipswich Town 17-year-old, thrown in at the deep end by manager Paul Jewell for the last two matches, is set to complete a hat-trick of senior starts against visiting Crystal Palace this afternoon.

It has been a whirlwind rise for Carson, a Northern Ireland under-21 international who was learning his trade in the Reserves and youth team, as well as haphazardly cleaning Jewell’s boots, until his dramatic call-up to the Championship side for the last home game against Scunthorpe.

Carson kept his place at Burnley last weekend, and his two appearances to date have coincided with two Town wins.

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It has all been hard to take in, especially the “honour” of playing in the same team as Gareth McAuley, who skippered Northern Ireland in their last outing.

“Playing with Gareth McAuley is brilliant, for a player of my age, watching TV and seeing him being captain for the country,” enthused Carson yesterday.

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“It’s a magnificent honour for Gareth. I look up to him, being from the same area (County Antrim). For me it’s been a dream come true. I’m chuffed just to be alongside Gareth McAuley.

“I’ve needed to pinch myself on a couple of occasions to see if it’s real,” added Carson.

Wide-man Carson, who has patrolled both flanks during the 2-0 win over Scunthorpe, and 2-1 win at Burnley, has not been over-awed by either the pace or physical demands of the Championship.

In fact, like former Town boss Roy Keane, who always relished a challenge, Carson is eager to make his presence felt every time he steps onto the pitch.

“I’m 17-years-old, but I can handle myself physically. I can put myself about the pitch and make my feelings felt,” insisted Carson.

“It was fantastic playing under Roy Keane, and the player he was.

“He encouraged all the youngsters to keep going and to work harder. I think it’s an Irish way to get stuck in.

“It was a big surprise that the manager (Jewell) threw me in at the deep end. He obviously wanted to see how I would cope, and I think I coped quite well.

“Now I want to kick on, get a few more games under my belt, and hopefully next season be a regular in the first team.”

And Carson confirmed: “I’ve been cleaning the gaffer’s boots, but not that well!”

Carson was also quick to praise fellow 17-year-old Joe Whight, a first year scholar who was yesterday handed a two-year professional contract by Jewell.

“Joe (Whight) is a fantastic player. He’s an extraordinary talent. I’ve played alongside him lots of times for the youth team.”

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