United boss Chris Beech hinted after the weekend game that the trip to Sheffield tonight could present an opportunity for those who didn’t get a start on Saturday to step up.
And Gav Skelton confirmed that could be the case as he took on pre-match press duties, with the Blues team potentially having a very ‘Cumbrian’ feel to it come 7.45pm on the night.
“We could well give opportunities to people who didn’t play on Saturday, and the good thing is that we have young Cumbrians on the sidelines who want to be part of it,” he said. “We haven’t looked at it yet, but if they are given an opportunity then hopefully they’ll step up.
“It’s what we’ve always said, isn’t it, that a club like ours needs to be bringing its own talent through. We want them to push on, as do they, and they have the chance to make that happen under the current management team.
“We’ve changed it about throughout pre-season and we know that all of our squad are capable of playing. We’ve got three of four games in the first ten days of the season so there will be opportunities for people.
“The likes of Taylor Charters, Josh Dixon and Lewis Bell are here to play, not just to make up the numbers, so if they get an opportunity in the next few games they’ll want to take it.”
“Whatever team is picked, it will be picked to go and win the game,” he continued. “Like I saym, as well as those exciting young Cumbrian lads and the likes of Manny [Mampala] and Lukas [Jensen] who are chomping at the bit.
“We feel like we have a good squad who are all capable of playing at any given time. When you start the season with four games in ten days you know that everyone will get an opportunity at some point.
“It’s about the lads taking those opportunities. Taylor has done well when he’s played in the past, and he needs to do that again when he gets a chance to try and implement himself into the team.
“Josh has waited for that chance after his injuries and with the ability he’s got he’s more than capable of taking his chance. Lewi Bell was disappointed with his performance against Blackpool, which shows how his mentality is.
“He wasn’t just pleased to play, he wasn’t happy with his performance even though at times we thought he did well. They’ve all been at the club a long time and they’re desperate to play and do well, which is great, but when they get their opportunity they have to show what they can do. Nothing in this industry is a given.”
But could there be more in terms of new faces ahead of deadline day, particularly in light of the departure of Aaron Hayden in such an unexpected fashion.
“We’re always on the look-out for ways to improve the squad,” he told us. “If someone comes in we want it to be the right one and someone who fits the model and the group.
“The mentality of the group is good and we want to keep it that way. It’s a tough market because everybody is looking for a solid centre half and a striker who will score every week, it’s a competitive market, but we are working hard.
“I’m repeating myself but we have people who can step in. Morgan [Feeney] is probably disappointed he didn’t play on Saturday but his injury against Blackpool hampered his chances a bit.
“Corey Whelan looked really assured as the game went on and Rod played well next to him, so there’s no rush. We want it to be right.
“We’re always looking because you want to be strong in every area. There’s no rush or panic because we’ve got the young lads we’ve just talked about who can step in, along with others. But you do look around and you strengthen whenever possible, if the right player becomes available.”