Northern Ireland goalkeeper Roy Carroll would love be on the plane to France this summer – but insists he doesn’t want to just make up the numbers at Euro 2016.
Carroll starred in Monday night’s 1-0 win over Slovenia at Windsor Park, saving a second half penalty and pulling off a superb save low to his left in the dying minutes to earn a deserved clean sheet.
It also saw Northern Ireland extend their unbeaten run to 10 games, eclipsing the record of Billy Bingham’s revered sides of the 1980s.
Carroll was present for the 2-1 win over Finland 12 months ago when Northern Ireland began their 10-game sequence.
And the 38-year-old played a major part in preserving the streak by saving Milivoje Novakovic’s penalty in the 66th minute.
Monday was Carroll’s first start in 10 months for Northern Ireland, and the Notts County keeper hopes his display against Slovenia provided a timely reminder of his value ahead of this summer’s showpiece in France.
“It would be nice to be on the plane, but once you get on that plane you want to be playing,” Carroll said.
“That’s my passion and I still have the hunger to do that.
“Hopefully I’ll be in the squad and can get games in France. There is still a long way to go though. You look at poor Brunty (Chris Brunt) getting injured and missing the tournament.
“Every day I wake up and touch wood and hope that you don’t get injured. I feel sorry for Brunty, who is a great lad and a leader on the pitch as well.”
Carroll accepts he has a fight on his hands to earn the number one jersey in France this summer.
“There is obviously Michael McGovern and Alan Mannus. We have three goalkeepers and it is very hard because you only have that one position to fight for,” he added.
“ After games we talk about how things went and we work hard together in training. We are good friends and support the other whoever plays.”
Carroll admits he did some homework on Slovenia’s penalties ahead of Monday’s clash in Belfast.
The towering keeper was able to read substitute Novakovic’s spot-kick as he pulled off a super save down to his right.
“We practiced penalties over the last couple of games after the Wales game and watched videos,” Carroll added.
“I noticed who was taking it and he always seemed to go down the right side, took a gamble and went to my right and thankfully pulled off the save.”
Despite his penalty heroics, Carroll admitted his late save from Valter Birsa was more impressive.
“I actually liked that one better than the penalty,” Carroll smiles.
“It was a hard shot down to my left and I got down quickly to turn it away. Everything came together for us tonight and to break the record made it an ideal evening.”
Carroll has experienced the highs and lows of international football since making his Northern Ireland debut in 1997 as a fresh-faced 19-year-old.
And he hopes the feel-good factor can continue into France and beyond.
“You can see how much the fans are enjoying this time for Northern Ireland football<” he added.
“The atmosphere was brilliant again and it was nice to keep a clean sheet for the lads and help to break the record and go 10 games unbeaten.
“I was really pleased to do my bit because the boys have worked so hard over the last year.”