ANDY Welsh and Jon-Paul McGovern used to be rivals. Now the former Sunderland winger is hoping they can give Carlisle United an extra dimension.
Carlisle fans will have a second chance to see the new signings in blue when Middlesbrough visit Brunton Park for tonight’s pre-season friendly.
Welsh says both are looking forward to supplying the bullets for a youthful Cumbrian forward line.
He said: “Myself and JP have played against each other quite a lot and we have a fair number of league games under our belts.
“I remember one season we were both battling it out at the top of the league for assists.
“That can only enhance us to be playing here. Experience that way will help the team.
“There are 46 league games and everyone will be called upon, so if I can help anyone along the way I will.”
In 2009-10, then-Swindon Town player McGovern was League One’s leading goalmaker, with 16. Welsh provided 10 of the 27 goals Yeovil scored in his three years at Huish Park.
While the cultured McGovern can also play centrally, Welsh is an out-and-out winger of the type Carlisle did not have at the end of last season.
Although on-loan Ben Marshall was a wide player by trade, manager Greg Abbott tended to use him at the tip of a midfield diamond.
Even that option was lost when the Stoke City winger picked up an injury in the Johnstone Paints Trophy final which ruled him out of the rest of the season.
Matty Robson lost his place on the left wing because of Abbott’s preferred formation, but successfully switched to left-back when injury ended Sean McDaid’s career tragically early.
Welsh, who played Premier League football for Mick McCarthy’s Sunderland, is looking forward to a return to old-fashioned wing play at Brunton Park.
He added: “The manager spoke to me and I am sure he has to JP too to make sure we are providing lots of opportunities.
“Coming here as a winger I want to be playing and to show the fans what I can do.
“I hope they take to me and I can be a good player for them for the next two years at least.”
At 27, Welsh is three years McGovern’s junior and admits he has been slow to learn his position.
He said: “It has taken me a long time to realise that, even though I am a winger, I have to do my fair share of the work.
“It might not mean a crunching tackle, but I have to track back and help out.”
Abbott has gambled with his strikers this season, opting not to add to a quartet of Craig Curran, François Zoko, Rory Loy and Paddy Madden, who netted just 19 times between them last season.
They have responded well in pre-season, Curran scoring twice and Madden claiming the matchball in Penrith.
Visitors Middlesbrough will be sent out with a point to prove after a disappointing pre-season so far.
Some managers take a relaxed view of results in preparation matches, but Tony Mowbray was not happy with Saturday’s 4-2 defeat at Darlington. He said: “Our players have to get up to speed and defend them better than we did on Saturday.
“No department of the team at Darlington was the finished article.”
Mowbray is revamping his squad as Boro adapt to losing the parachute payment which cushioned their fall from the Premier League.
It allowed the former Celtic manager to put the Neasham Road embarrassment into some sort of context, saying: “If I thought the team we played against Darlington would start on August 6, I would have more concerns.”