United’s pre-season campaign starts at Holker Street tonight [kick off 7.45pm] as the Bluebirds take on the Blues in what is always an enjoyable encounter.
Every member of the squad is expected to feature with assistant manager Tommy Wright looking for the players to take what they’ve been doing in training into the game as they continue to work their way through what is a busy summer campaign.
“It’s the first friendly game and it’s a progression from what they’ve done in training,” he said. “It’s against a local team, which is always good, and I’m sure both sets of fans will be looking forward to it.
“Local games tend to have an edge and I’ve been to Barrow a few times. It’s a bit of a journey and it can be quite intimidating down there. They’ve got a new manager and I’m sure they’ll be looking to do well, but that’s the same for us.
“I’m sure it’ll be competitive because they’re at a decent level. Barrow will want to beat Carlisle, and we will want to beat them, but you have to take into account that it is a pre-season game and you’re looking to get certain things out of it.
“At the end of the day there’s nothing at stake, other than it being part of the progression of getting things ready for the Exeter game.”
On what he wants to see from the players, he told us: “You obviously try to iron any mistakes out straight away, but you have to remember these lads are human beings.
“We don’t know what the pitch will be like, with the weather being the way it has been lately, so you just take all of that as it comes.
“The important thing is to see players trying to do things right. It is early doors, but we hopefully won’t see players making the same mistakes too often. They also know they need to stay away from injuries, at the same time as improving their technique and fitness.”
“The important thing is always the Exeter game, but the sooner you get your touch and sharpness sorted the better it is,” he continued. “If you hit the ground running at Barrow with your passing and movement it helps.
“We won’t lose sleep over it too much if it takes a little bit longer. Having said that, whoever you are, you’re looking to impress the manager, but you’re a professional footballer and you’re also looking to do it properly for yourself. The greatest players in the world always go out to impress and do their best. It’s no different for us.
“The process of staking a claim for that first game of the season definitely starts now. You’re better playing well in every game rather than trying to pick and choose it. If somebody comes in and plays well at Barrow, Penrith, Kendal and Workington then he won’t be doing himself any harm, let’s put it that way.”
With trialist Lewis Walters expected to play a part, he said: “Lewis has trained well. He’s a player I’ve seen before, and he’s looked sharp in training so far this week. It’ll be a chance for him to impress John.
“There could be other trial players involved, but there’s nothing imminent on that as we speak.
“In terms of adding to the squad, we’re working on it. Being honest, we’re a bit thin on the ground, but we have a core of very good players here. However, there’s no doubt we need to add to that.
“They’re all good professionals but you can never tell until it’s a game situation whether you have to dig one or two out, or give them a cuddle, because everyone is different. You have to learn how to deal with the players as individuals as you get to see them in these different situations.
“We’ve said that we’re looking at some potential loans but everybody likes to keep their cards close to their chest at the moment. A lot of the higher teams, from the Championship, like to give their players fitness tests, so that’s the responses we’re getting at the moment. We’re quite optimistic on a couple.”
And having been at the club through his own settling in process, he commented: “It’s a good place with some really good people. It’s got everything in place and we’re looking forward to the challenge.
“We’ve been clear that we’re here to bring success. It isn’t easy winning promotion. There are 92 clubs all sitting there right now feeling like they’re going to do something.
“It’s a long season so you don’t get too carried away or too disappointed. As long as you can see improvement and development, that’s the biggest thing.”
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