United once again showed the benefit of having a squad that’s ready to go yesterday as, despite having players unavailable, they overcame the difficulties that can sometimes pose by sticking to the squad ethics as they claimed another excellent win.
“I’ve said before that it’s important that we continue to look at and understand the reasons behind every performance and result,” manager Chris Beech said. “It’s the way we do it, everybody does it differently, but it’s about what we do and how we achieve things.
“It’s something I’m trying to teach the younger players, so when they come in they can do what they’ve done. I thought Taylor Charters was outstanding with the way he went about his work.
“It was nice to see a couple of other young lads on the bench and Lewis Bell getting on. It’s all part of the process, you’re only as strong as your weakest link. We’re pretty low on numbers, but that’s why you work so hard on not just getting points on match days, but developing tomorrow’s three points as well. It’s vital that we continue to do that.”
Speaking more about those injuries, Callum Guy caused concern when he limped from the pitch with 15 minutes left to play.
“I think he’s ok,” he told us. “I hope he’s ok, because he’s a dominant midfield player and you want dominant midfield players on the pitch.
“I thought Callum looked right in the game. He took a horrendous tackle at Harrogate in the first minute, and he’s a lad with a bit about him who will just get on with it. He’s still dominating midfield areas.
“This one was one of the best tackles Rod McDonald has done for a long time, he took two people out and one of them was Callum. That’s what happens in football, but he’s got plenty of time to get ready for next week.”
And with fellow midfielder Jon Mellish missing out again, he explained: “He’s got himself a new pair of boots for Christmas and it’ll be nice to see him put them on and use them.
“He felt better on Friday, he was on a rehab programme on Sunday while we were at Walsall, on his own, we’re waiting on feedback on that. If it’s better again then we’re very energised to feel he’ll be back in training next week.”
An obvious boost for the squad was the return of Brennan Dickenson, who made his first appearance since signing for his new club in the summer.
“I’m so frustrated the ref blew that whistle, because Brennan has not fouled that lad, and he’s got the hardest left foot shot you’ve seen,” the manager commented. “He’s just about to let go from 20 yards and the ref gives the foul. Such a shame.
“He had two weeks out because he had coronavirus after spending some time at St George’s and with his family down south, it put his rehab back a bit. When he first joined us he was running around and playing against Sunderland in 25 degrees of heat, then he comes back to this (snow) and he has to make sure his body is right.”
The mention of Covid served as a reminder that the EFL is about to conduct a mass testing drive, with all members of the playing staff set to take part.
“We’ll get tested over Monday and Tuesday,” the manager told us. “We have had incidents with players, but anybody with any symptoms has been tested. We’ve had a little bit of it around us, which means everybody thinks they’ve got it when they haven’t, and they’re then having to perform which is very difficult for somebody to do.
“You become anxious, and that’s why I’m saying well done to everybody. We haven’t taken any risks, if there is a player with any symptoms they get tested.
“It really is important for people, but we have to think about the players as well. With the news of Nick Anderton having to isolate, and the few incidents we had last week, it was very difficult to get a team together to go and represent ourselves at Harrogate on Tuesday.
“I’m really pleased with how the boys are handling the current circumstances privately to make sure they can come into work and ensure we don’t bring something into the building. That’s very difficult when you’re working so closely with 30 or so people, but I’m very proud of the fact that we’ve been able to do that.
“I want to say thank you to the office staff for the support we get to make sure we can keep doing that. I think it’s important that our supporters understand that, and I know we are very fortunate to be able to come to work. Sometimes it can get difficult, so well done to everybody.
“We have to follow the EFL protocols which is very hard at a club like ours, because it isn’t always cost effective. We do our best to represent ourselves, and unfortunately Nick is in a position where he’s had to isolate. Fortunately, he can train on Monday and believe me he’s going to make up for a week off and he’ll be working hard next week.”
But more good news was incoming when it was revealed that Gime Toure is back from France.
“Gime was a difficult one,” he told us. “He’s found it hard in these circumstances when you aren’t allowed to mix with others. He rents a flat in Carlisle and lives on his own, but he’s got no family and his only social situation is training.
“I think it has hurt him over time, so I agreed with him that he could go home for a few days which will hopefully help him get his mojo back after a great start to the season. Something came up at home, so I agreed to let him go, and I didn’t want to tell him he couldn’t go when our numbers were low because I don’t think that’s the right way to manage people.
“He’s back now, he flew back on 30 December, so he’ll have to isolate for five days and follow the government guidelines. He was tested before he went and was negative, and he’ll be tested again in the next round of our EFL tests next week.”
Next up for discussion was the January transfer window.
“We’ll have to see what happens then adapt, just like we have to do on the pitch,” he said. “We challenge the staff to keep looking for answers to questions that haven’t been asked yet, and that’s the way we’ve got to work.
“January is always important. We’ve got loan players and Rhys Bennett to talk about. Rhys wouldn’t be here if I didn’t work for Carlisle, we’re in a situation where I obviously want to retain him.
“It’s not about the money because, if it was, he wouldn’t be here in the first place. Where we are financially, players aren’t necessarily earning what they were last year. The players are giving everything in a situation where we have to try and maximise everything, which is hard.
“We’ve done well at it so far, and hopefully we can continue that with Rhys. I’ve had a meeting with Rhys and said in usual circumstances there would probably be 6 to 8,000 people singing your name in Brunton Park.
“Although he’s had good interactions with fans on social media, there’s nothing better than sharing it with fans in stadiums. You only get one career, but something else I shared with him was that when I was earning the most money as a footballer, it was my least enjoyable period I had.
“It just works out like that sometimes. I know he’s connected with the Carlisle fans, and I know he’s connected with me and what we’re doing on the pitch. Maybe the fans can help us and give him a tweet so he can see the support and how much we all want him to stay with us.”
Meanwhile on the current crop of loan players, he told us: “I could speak publicly about Micah Obiero, I’d rather leave it private. He’s a Huddersfield player, absolutely no fall-out whatsoever at our end, I’m not going to say anything else.
“I have a lot of respect for that club, I played for it, played the best part of my football career there, have a lot of friends there, Brandon my boy was born in Huddersfield, so Micah’s not here, you’ll have to ask Micah and Huddersfield for anything else.”
“Connor Malley will go back to Middlesbrough,” he continued. “Unfortunately he’s spent a long time injured. Marcus Dewhurst will also go back to Sheffield United with the door very much open because of the type of character he is.
“I’m sure the fans have heard me talk about the day it took him about 12 hours to get up to training in the snow when a lot of lads turned around. It made me see what a great lad he is, and that’s why we brought him back when Magnus was injured in pre-season.
“Marcus understands that because of Paul’s form he hasn’t played. He’ll go back but with the door very much open if anything changes. He wants to play football, so we’ll wait and see what happens.
“And I spoke about Ethan Walker earlier this week. Of course I want him to come back, and Ethan wants to come back, but I think Preston are pretty low on numbers in their first team. He isn’t our player, but he’s back in full contact training and we’ll just have to wait and see.”
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