Striker Gav Reilly got the first 45 minutes of the season under his belt when he came on for the second half of the friendly against Fleetwood Town on Tuesday afternoon.
Speaking after the game, which was played out in sweltering conditions, he said: “It’s great to get back to playing competitive football.
“I think the first half was near enough the 11 Fleetwood would look towards for when the league starts up. Fleetwood had a really good season last year so it was a really good test for us.
“We’ve played a lot of in-house games during the week, both at Brunton Park and Creighton, but there’s nothing better than getting back to a competitive situation. It was good to get 45 minutes under and hopefully I can move on from it.
“Everyone’s a bit rusty, my last game was back in February, and for the other guys it was March. That’s a long time. You can do all the training you want but nothing matches being back on the grass in competitive games. We’ve got a few more lined up, so keep them coming.”
And on getting to know his new teammates, he commented: “It was the first game against another team and everyone’s still getting used to each other in terms of 11v11.
“Training has been good and we’ve gelled in that sense, but it’s different when you get out there against another team. There were a lot of positives in both halves, some negatives as well, but it’s the first game, you can’t expect it to be brilliant from the start.
“That’s why these games are good. You get to learn about the players you’re playing against, you’re with them every single day, whereas there’s guys here I’ve never played against before. You have to learn on the job, as they say.
“That’s the nature of the game, the EFL, there’s 24 teams, every one’s going to be different. That’s where the likes of Jacob [Blain] comes in with the analysis. Today it’s all about getting minutes under the belt and no injuries, which we’ve done, and it’s a positive.
“We just need to step that up now. I got 45 minutes, some other guys got a bit more, over the next few weeks the guys will start racking up the minutes towards that first game.”
In terms of the important settling-in process, he told us: “The first week it’s all fist bumps and getting used to each other. The serious heads are on now, and the games are coming fast so there’s a lot of competition.
“That’s what the manager wants and it’s great for the club. Everyone’s knuckling down, we’re all together and it’s not just one person it’s the whole team, that’s what will bring success this season.
“The momentum will continue to gather as these games keep coming. With the games, we played Saturday, today, another Saturday, we’ve got to try and get used to that. When the season kicks off it’s going to be like that with how condensed it’s going to be.
“As a footballer you get into a routine, it’s just getting the body used to playing 90 minutes in every scenario. It’s different to training, the intensity goes up because you’re competing to win, basically.
“The good thing is that the standard’s very good. In January I was close to coming and I’ve kept an eye on things since then. The guys were doing really well and really kicked on since the gaffer came in.
“If it wasn’t for Covid and the lockdown Carlisle would have finished in a lot higher position. We’ve kept a core of that group together and hopefully we can build on that for this year and we can have a successful season.”
One thing noticeable from his first appearance of the summer was how much he was talking to the players around him, particularly the younger members of the group.
“I need to bring that in,” he said. “I’m one of the older guys in the group, it’s something new to me to me, I wouldn’t say I’m a leader, but you have to be vocal on the pitch, especially when there are a lot of the younger guys on the pitch.
“I’ve got to try and help them and understand that I was in that position at one point. If they make mistakes you can help them to get their confidence back and move on from it. There are some good young players here, which is good for the club and another big positive.”
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