Manager Keith Curle spoke more about his transfer window activities at his Thursday afternoon press conference.
“The FA Cup was a pleasing distraction and we’ve earned the club a little bit of money from it, with the games we played,” he said. “Overall we gave a good account of ourselves against teams from higher divisions.
“There’s a feeling of disappointment because we wanted to go through to the fourth round and earn some more money, but that isn’t the case for us. Now it’s back to the real world and back to work.”
With 19 league games left to play he insisted that the main focus remains on a successful end to the campaign.
“Top seven would be deemed a success, but we’re operating now in the mid-table area,” he commented. “We still haven’t got the fluency to our play where we’re able to roll out performances which get us positive results back-to-back.
“Ideally now we need a run of four or five consecutive wins and that will put us right back in contention. That’s what we’ve probably been missing through the first half of the season.
“We’ve had glimpses and we’ve had mini-runs, but we now need to turn that into a level of consistency. With funds being made available we have the opportunity to potentially add different dynamics to the squad which will help us to achieve that.”
“We’re operating with a small squad and recently we’ve been missing the likes of Nicky Adams, Jason Kennedy, Luke Joyce, Kelvin Etuhu,” he explained. “These players are arguably first team starters.
“When you do have a small squad, and players do drop out, it can cause inconsistency, but I do have to say that the players who have come in have shown that they’re ready and that they have a good mentality.
“Mark Ellis was a great example of that on Tuesday. He’s had to wait but he stepped up and showed that he’s ready whenever we need him.”
And with 12 days of the transfer window left to go, he confirmed that he is still actively pursuing targets without feeling the need to rush.
“There is no sense of panic because we want to get the right personnel in,” he explained. “Sometimes you have to wait for that to fall into place.
“We’ve had targets who have chosen to go elsewhere, and we’ve already spoken this morning about Marc Richards being one of them. It’s obviously their right to do that and I’m sure a player will always choose what he thinks is best for his career.
“We’ve had a number of targets we haven’t been able to get over the line, and that’s with us looking at short, medium and long-term options. Discussions with players have been about coming in until the end of the season, and with others we’ve talked about extended contracts. Within that there’s been an opportunity for players to earn extended contracts by as well.
“We’re still looking at a broad spectrum of players, but we’re looking for a bit of experience and quality which can help us to get the consistency we’re striving for. We’ll continue to keep looking and making contact, and the pleasing thing is that we have our finger on the pulse recruitment wise.”
“The situation on which players are available changes daily, as other clubs do business and players get knocked down the pecking order,” he told us. “They tend to have conversations with their manager and ask if they can go out, so it then comes down to us having the knowledge of the skill sets they can bring to the table when they do become available.
“As for the skill sets we’re looking for, we want to score more goals and we want to be more creative. At times recently we’ve been in good areas but we’ve lacked a ruthless edge and the quality to finish things off.
“That’s not just saying we need new strikers, we need to fine tune the way we’re doing things. We’re missing people like Nicky Adams, who can get you 19 or 20 assists, and I know the supporters know how important he was to us. That number of assists doesn’t happen by accident, it’s part of his trade.
“Trying to go out and replace a goal scoring midfielder of Jason Kennedy’s calibre isn’t easy either. Players like this are difficult to find, and it’s then difficult to get them to come to Carlisle.
“Other teams want players like that in their squad as well, so getting the blend right is important, and then you have to make sure you pay what is the right amount for that player, in your opinion.”
“It’s an ongoing situation and I have Lee [Dykes] out meeting a player and his representative today,” he revealed. “How that pans out will dictate whether I go and meet the player tomorrow. We’re always looking and if things come up, and they’re right for us and the player, we’ll try to make it happen.
“We aren’t panicking because we know we’re looking in the right areas. Sometimes you do need a kick start and you need a fresh face to help give you that. If you bring in the right player with the right qualities, it can lift everybody.”
And as for funds available, he said: “It hasn’t been clarified as to how much the FA Cup games will bring, because other factors have been added in to what will be deducted.
“For example, the use of the VAR and goal line technology is an extra cost, which is put on the clubs. I don’t know if that charge is for the set-up, the operation of it, or the manning of it during the game.
“Whatever it’s for, it could all add up to a couple of thousand pounds, which probably doesn’t mean too much to a Championship or Premier League club, but when it starts coming out of a pot that you have a share in at our level it becomes a case of where I’ll take the referee’s decision.”
As for the prospect of any of the current United squad heading out the other way, he said: “We’ve had enquiries for two players. One was a straight swap for a player, and the other was for a potential loan.
“Nothing came of those because it didn’t suit me at the time, due to the size of our squad and the nature of the games we had coming up.”
“We will still have a number of players who will be unavailable for the weekend,” he told us. “A few players are trying to return, with field-based training, so we’ll get through today’s session and we’ll find out what their reaction is after that.
“Sam [Cosgrove] obviously wasn’t involved at Hillsborough but he could be available for the weekend. Tom Miller won’t be available, and Kelvin Etuhu is the same. With him we expect him to be back to being field-based and joining in with the group in the latter part of next week.
“I spoke to Clint on Wednesday and he’s still in Spain. I’m having a catch-up with him later today [Thursday] to find out what the situation is with his family and his father. Family always comes first in these situations and that’s the message Clint went away with, both from me and from the club.
“When we speak today he’ll be able to talk about what his plans are, but the key thing in this is that there’s a family member who isn’t well and who needs his support.”
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