JOSH CARSON has revealed he was grateful for the Boxing Day clattering he received from Accrington Stanley’s Lee Molyneux.

The York City winger was poleaxed by Molyneux following a stoppage-time challenge that saw many home fans baying for a red card.

Molyneux was subsequently cautioned but Carson confessed that he probably needed to take such a big hit to help with the psychological process of coming back from cruciate ligament damage.

Having come on as an 85th-minute replacement against Stanley, Carson started and scored during the 3-0 win at Carlisle two days later and believes he benefitted from surviving Molyneux’s mauling.

The Northern Ireland international said: “I panicked a little bit after that tackle, but you are going to get that and it’s something I needed to get my head around. I almost thanked him for it, but then thought maybe not.

“It was good to bounce up from it though and continue playing.”

Carson was thrown into action early in November following eight months on the sidelines and started consecutive fixtures at Hartlepool and Plymouth before being taken out of the firing line and spending three matches on the bench.

He reluctantly accepted manager Russ Wilcox’s decision at the time but now plans to stake his claim for regular first XI inclusion, adding: “I feel good now and have been doing quite well in training.

“I am dying to play but the gaffer knew it wasn’t quite right to play me, so I’ve been playing a waiting game on the bench. You get upset and think why’s he doing this but, when you look at the long run, it was the right thing to do.

“I had played two games on the bounce and maybe that was a bit soon after my injury. I’m not sure about that but he felt maybe that I wasn’t 100 per cent and took me out.

“Luckily enough, I got a start on Sunday and I felt the benefits of that. Hopefully, I can push on now and get a few more games under my belt.”

Carson’s recall came after Diego De Girolamo withdrew during the pre-match warm-up at Brunton Park with a foot problem, but the ex-Ipswich midfielder was not unsettled by the late call-up, explaining: “You still prepare correctly if you’re going to be on the bench by eating the right food and drinking fluids.

“I was also ready to play a part as well because I knew Diego’s situation.”

Carson went on to celebrate his first goal since mid-March to get the ball rolling against Carlisle and, whilst admitting his 44th-minute effort was not the cleanest of strikes, that did not detract from a very special moment.

“I’ve been waiting all of nine months to get that feeling back, but I’ve had it now and it felt fantastic,” he enthused. “I heard Jake (Hyde) screaming for a pass, but I thought ‘I’m having this one’.

“I hit it into the ground and my standing leg slipped but they all count and, if I had struck it well, the keeper might have saved it. When it went in, I felt a lot of weight come off my shoulders and it relaxed me.

“I felt I could play my own game and enjoy it because, during the first ten minutes, I gave the ball away sloppily a couple of times.”

Carson rated Sunday’s display as comfortably the Minstermen’s finest of the campaign and argued that it boded well for the second half of the season.

“It was definitely our best performance of the season by a country mile,” he said. “We didn’t do too much differently to what we normally do, but we were all over them from the get go and, apart from ten minutes at the start of the second half, carried on like that.

“At times, they were poor on the ball but, at the same time, we had to pick them off and put the ball in the net. We’ve had our ups and downs this season and it’s panned out a bit like the last one.

“I don’t really want to say that but, hopefully, we can kick on now.”

Carson also revelled in his role as part of a fluid front four, along with Hyde, Wes Fletcher and Michael Coulson, who were given licence to roam in Cumbria.

“All four of us can do what we want,” he pointed out. “I can either stay on the left or go over to the right, which is good because you’re not always running in straight lines and I think that caused Carlisle problems because, when they saw Jake and Wes pulling out wide and Couls going through the middle, they didn’t really know who to mark. We know what we’re doing but the opposition don’t.”

Carson added, meanwhile, that he is impressed by the current spine of the team with Russell Penn and Luke Summerfield complementing each other in the middle of the park and Keith Lowe and Stephane Zubar forging together a central-defensive understanding that has heralded back-to-back clean sheets for the first time this term.

“In midfield, Russ does all the dirty work and Luke can put the ball in the net, which he’s started to do quite well,” Carson suggested. “There’s a great balance in there.

“The lads at the back also deserve a massive amount of credit. They were up against a big lad at Carlisle but I thought Keith and Stephane were brilliant, as was Marvin (McCoy) coming back into the team after being out for a few games.”