Long cue sessions lick Rotherham's Ashley Carty into shape for return to pro snooker ranks

ASHLEY Carty has been working 9 till 5 to improve his game ahead of his return to the World Snooker Tour and is already seeing the benefits.

Back on the main circuit after four years away, the 27-year-old marked his return by winning his group at the first round of the Championship League in Leicester.

His success in the four-man group follows a strict practice regime since the start of the year under the guidance of Kevin Johnston, a former pro who worked for several years with one-time world champion Shaun Murphy.

“I think a lot of players will have had time off since the end of last season but I’ve not. I’ve been working really hard on my game,” said Carty.

“Kevin has been helping me since January, working me really hard. I go home every day absolutely shattered because it’s really intense practice but I can see the benefits. I feel I’m a lot better player now. It’s just about transferring it to the tournaments.”

Carty did just that in the Championship League at Leicester, booking a ticket to the second round back at the city’s Morningside Arena on Tuesday.

“I had a bit of luck because I was meant to have Neil Robertson, Liam Highfield and Adam Duffy in my group but Neil and Liam withdraw,” he said.

“They were replaced by two amateurs – Craig Steadman, who has just dropped off the tour, and a young player in Shaun McAllister.

“I drew my first two games and won the last one to win the group.”

Should Carty win his group next week, he will return to Leicester next Friday for the final stage.

Qualifiers for the European Masters follow at the end of the July.

Added Ashley: “A lot of top pros don’t play the Championship League because it is a small ranking event, but it’s good to play a few matches.

“I’m glad I’ve got the season off to a good start. I’ve got a few ranking points for it and hopefully I can get a few more when I go back. That would put me in a position to build on.”