MIKE Carter – the man described as “the complete player” by manager Dave Diaper – could be key to helping Sholing into the FA Vase semi-finals. The 22-year-old defender/midfielder is one of the less talked-about members of the Boatmen’s side.
But there is no doubt in Diaper’s mind that he is one of the most important as Sholing go in search of victory over Wisbech Town at the Silverlake Arena tomorrow.
A trainee electrician, Carter missed the Boatmen’s 1-0 extra-time win over Larkhall Athletic in the last round after slicing into his thumb with a stanley knife and severing tendons.
He vowed on the day to “diagnose myself fit for the next round” if Sholing got through and has proved as good as his word after watching star striker Lee Wort fire the Boatmen into the last eight for the first time in their history.
After making his comeback off the sub’s bench, Carter got a full 90 minutes under his belt on Tuesday as Sholing revved up for tomorrow’s big tie with a 9-0 demolition job on Horndean in the Sydenhams Premier Division.
Diaper said: “I brought Mike on with 15 minutes to go against Hamworthy last week (a 4-0 win) and it didn’t look like he’d been away.
“He’s been with us first-team wise since the age of 16 and he’s so instrumental to us with the way he plays.
“He’s normally a right-back but he played at centre-back alongside Dan Miller on Tuesday.
Complete player “I see him as a central midfielder, but he’s one of the best centre-halves around as well. I’ve even played him at left-back. “He’s the complete player.
“Mike might not be talked about as much as some because nine times out of ten the people making the headlines are strikers. “Defensive midfielders don’t get much recognition, but I think everyone knows about Mike’s ability and knows how good he is. “He’s even had professional clubs look at him.
“Without doubt he should play higher and he knows that, but he loves the club. “We’re lucky to have him with us – but that goes for a lot of our lads.”
Unfortunately for Sholing, Carter’s return has been offset by two key losses.
Towering midfielder Lewis Fennemore made a game-changing impact off the bench against Larkhall but clocked up his tenth booking of the season, earning himself a two-match ban.
The Boatmen will also be without winger Nick Watts who dislocated a shoulder against Horndean.
“Nick’s shoulder popped out and it looks like he’ll be out for four to six weeks,” said Diaper.
“He’ll be a loss, as will Lewis Fennemore who’s been in a rich vein of form and was man-of-the-match the other night.
“We’ll be checking on (centre-back) Pete Castle’s ankle, but apart from that we’re okay.” With just tomorrow’s game and a two-legged semi-final standing between the Boatmen and Wembley, Diaper said: “We’ve gone further than we could ever have dreamed of.
“Wisbech have won four away games already in the Vase and sometimes there’s not so much pressure when you’re away from home.
“But I’d say we’re the exception to the rule because our home record has been so good over the last two years.
“I want us to play with a bit of freedom tomorrow and I’ve got a feeling there will be plenty of goals.
“We’ve got (league leaders) Winchester here on Tuesday, so this could be a really big week for us and we need to perform.” Admission tomorrow is £5 adults, £3 concessions, £2 12-16yrs and free for under-12s. Saints fans can get in for £3 on production of a valid season-ticket.