Tom Parkes has been a key component of United’s six-game unbeaten run and he’s keen to keep that form going – starting with Saturday’s game against Cambridge.
University of Sunderland journalism student Mark Donnelly spoke to the versatile defender ahead of the visit of the U’s, where the Blues will be keen to bounce back from a 2-2 draw with Crawley last time out.
“All the boys are disappointed, especially after conceding two goals in the second half after taking a two-nil lead,” said Parkes.
“As a team we are disappointed but we’ll build on that and try and get a result on Saturday against Cambridge.”
Conceding two goals was especially disappointing for Parkes after some fine defensive performances of late, with United having kept three clean sheets in their last six outings.
And Parkes is backing his defensive colleagues to keep a fifteenth clean sheet of the campaign this weekend against a strong Cambridge frontline.
“We always want to keep a clean sheet, but sometimes teams can get an opportunity and that doesn’t happen,” he admitted. “When the first goal when it goes in, as a team we need to make sure that we stay compact and tight and not give them an opportunity to have another go at scoring.
“It was unfortunate that Crawley scored their second goal and that’s disappointing. But we’ve had a good week of training and now it’s time to put it right on Saturday.
“Cambridge will be a big test for us, but we’ve been strong recently at the back recently apart from conceding two on Saturday.
“We, as a back four and as a team, want to turn that around and try to get a clean sheet.
“If we do that then I can’t see why we can’t then beat them.”
United have already beaten Cambridge once this season in a game which saw Parkes net his first and only goal in a blue shirt – with a fairly memorable celebration following.
“It was just a bit of banter with a few of the boys who made me do it,” said the defender of his dab celebration.
“At the end of the day, I was just delighted to score my first goal for the club.”
So will we see the defender pull out a similar move should he find the back of the net this Saturday?
“We might do, we’ll have to see!
“More than likely not.”
Parkes’ recent run of games has coincided with a switch of position as he took up a new role on the left hand side of the back four.
And despite the initial settling in period, the defender feels he has grown to adapt to his new position with a little bit of help from two experienced heads in the United ranks.
“In the first few games I played there I felt a bit uncomfortable as it wasn’t my natural position,” admitted Parkes. “But over the last four or five games I’ve felt more comfortable there, especially getting help off Danny Grainger.
“Having him to help me and talk me through positioning and things helps me massively.
“You can see the potential that Clint Hill has had in his career as he’s a great player and a great defender.
“He’s a talker on the pitch and he’s always telling me to do this and do that, and when you’ve got someone as experienced as Clint it helps massively.
“With Danny too, he’s played there all of his career and knows everything about playing at left back which helps me massively.
“I’m enjoying it, but the main things for me is my defending and I need to make sure that if I’m playing left back I need to defend well.”
Key to Carlisle’s play-off push has been an improvement in home form, which has seen the Blues remain unbeaten on home soil in 2018, and Parkes admits the home support can really help to spur the side on.
“We had a slow start at home this season, but the last few games we’ve had at home we’ve got a few wins so hopefully we can keep that run going,” he said. “I think the fans have been fantastic.
“I can understand the disappointment they felt on Saturday because we’ve been on a good run.
“Even though we drew and we should have won the game, it’s still six unbeaten and when the fans are shouting and cheering and getting behind us it gives us that little bit more momentum to be sure that we see out the game.
The defender has already tasted promotion from Sky Bet League having helped take Bristol Rovers into the third tier in 2015/16, and now Parkes sees no reason why his current side can’t repeat the feat.
“This squad we’ve got here is a great squad,” he said, “there’s a lot of great players in here and some really technical players.”
“I’ve been in a promotion winning team before and I don’t see why this squad can’t push into the play-offs.
“We’ve just got to keep level-headed, stay confident, be positive and try and keep this unbeaten run going.
“I know that this squad we’ve got is capable of doing that.
“Even if we go behind in games, this squad can come back and win them.”
Click HERE to watch an interview with Tom Parkes on iFollow United now.