ROB Houghton says Westhoughton were “gutted” to lose current international professional Jonathan Carter after only four games, but he is hopeful the West Indian will one day return to represent the Howfeners.

Carter, a reserve batsman for his country’s World Cup campaign, has also been called up for West Indies A duty, but showed his commitment to the Westhoughton cause by playing through a side injury.

In his last two appearances, a T20 win against Walkden and a Peter Stafford Trophy quarter-final defeat against Bradshaw, the 31-year-old smashed blistering centuries, particularly against Walkden a week ago last Friday when he smashed 109 not out off just 39 balls with 12 sixes in a score of 273-1.

“It was truly incredible. In 30 years of being on cricket grounds, I’ve never seen hitting like it,” said captain Houghton, whose side are yet to win in four Premiership league games, most recently losing at Farnworth on Saturday.

“Chesney (Hughes) got his hundred at the other end and was exceptional. But it hasn’t been mentioned. Carter was just that good.

“He had a massive influence around the dressing room, as has Chesney. They’re big mates. The wow factor and the the fact he’s played for the West Indies makes a difference.

“We’d like to have him back, and we’ve had some chats about it with him.

“We’ll just have to see where he goes next at this stage of his career. But talking to him, I think there’s a good chance he’ll grace the St George’s Oval at some point.”

Carter arrived late in mid-May having been in the West Indies ODI squad for a World Cup warm-up series in Ireland.

“We found out he’d been called into the West Indies A squad just after we’d found out he was in the full squad for the games over in Ireland,” explained Houghton.

“But he didn’t know when it was going to start, so it was a case of, ‘we’ll just deal with it as it comes’.

“Then he played his first game and got a side strain. A few physios looked at it, and he had to tell to West Indies back home because he’s the reserve batsman for the World Cup squad.

“They told him to get home as soon as he could. But he wanted to be fair to the lads and ended up playing at the weekend.”

Houghton is hopeful of having a replacement pro sorted within the next week, but Arron Lilley and Callum Parkinson deputised over the weekend, the latter in the Farnworth defeat – their third in four matches (the other was rained off).

He added: “We’ve had a couple of really tight games, which could have easily gone our way. No one’s down in the dumps, though. We’re confident we’ll get back on track soon.

“Despite the results, I don’t think anyone’s really down. We know we’re not that far off, and Jonathan’s given everyone that buzz. Chesney’s had the same influence.”

On Saturday, Imran Mirza’s unbeaten 52 was added to by a series of useful contributions in 208-4 from 46 overs before Westhoughton were bowled out for 121 – Parkinson hitting 33.