Dundee United keeper Trevor Carson knows he faces an uphill struggle to claim the No 1 jersey from fans’ favourite Benji Siegrist on a permanent basis.
Carson, 33, is no stranger to facing challenges head on.
He has twice feared he’d never play at the top level again after a double injury hell.
A serious blood clot kept Carson out for almost a year.
He then spent nine months recovering from a knee injury before his move to Tannadice in the summer.
Carson has been in superb form for United since taking over the gloves from injured Siegrist last month.
Three clean sheets in four games and a recall to the Northern Ireland side to face Estonia has helped him prove his quality.
“There were times where I was contemplating whether it was worth it any more,” said Carson.
“Luckily I’ve got a great family around me who are always encouraging me.
“When you are playing in games in the Scottish Premiership and representing your country it makes you realise what all the sacrifices are worth.
“There are people who have been through a lot worse than me having a sore knee.
“You need to put things into perspective. It’s how you deal with it.
“I felt sorry for myself for two or three weeks. Then I gave myself a kick up the a*** and got that focus back of playing.
“The vision of playing in games for a club like Dundee United and representing my country that kept me going.
Carson reveals dark days
“Three or four months ago, representing my country seemed a different world away.
“I know it was only a friendly but any time you represent your country it’s a ‘pinch yourself moment.’
“That’s especially the case when you consider some of the dark places I was in January or February time.
“I couldn’t get off the sofa, I couldn’t walk and I was in a leg brace for three months. I wasn’t allowed to walk the dog.
“Fast forward six or seven months and I’m playing for my country and have got a move to a club like Dundee United.”
Trevor Carson hopes to keep gloves for Dundee derby
Siegrist will be back in full training this week ahead of the Dundee derby.
But Carson is in no hurry to give up the gloves.
And after making a stunning save to deny Richard Tait a late winner for St Mirren on Saturday, he has earned the right to fight for his place.
“I’ve been given a chance in unfortunate circumstances for Benji but I’ve been on the wrong end of it so many times,” added Carson.
“Every player wants to play every game – especially games at Dundee.
“It will be a massive derby.
“My focus was keeping a clean sheet and giving the manager a decision to make. I did that.”