Defender Aaron Hayden got another 90 minutes under his belt at Chorley on Tuesday night and he admitted afterwards that it had been a tough test, with the hosts proving to be stern opponents in a game that threw up chances for both sides.
“It was another really tough pre-season game,” he said. “It was good to get 90 minutes, and some of the other boys got 60, so we’re all really getting fit and up to speed now.
“Getting the game time is major because in the league you’re playing 90 plus minutes every week, so everybody has to get up to a point where they can do that. A lot of us got good shifts in through really good chunks of the game.”
With the new arrivals settling well amongst the core of the group that was already in place, the excitement continues to grow as supporters see some good signs out on the pitch.
“It’s really exciting,” he agreed. “You can see the quality that we’ve brought in and it’s just about us clicking now and going one step further.
“This is the learning stage of the season and everyone is going to make mistakes. We need to get the summer out of our legs and get ready for what’s ahead.
“That’s why keeping a clean sheet always matters. It’s really vital that we build that foundation of doing that because obviously winning is a habit, and doing it right now is very important.
“You feel like you’re getting sharper with every game and you can see the lads moving the ball a bit quicker. Everyone is running faster and going longer, it’s good.”
As well as the defensive duties, and as we know with a player who already has eight goals to his name, the big centre back isn’t averse to having a pop, and he went close again on a number of occasions at Victory Park.
“There was a great save from the keeper, to be honest,” he commented. “I hit it as sweet as I could have, but sometimes they don’t go in.
“I’d rather they go in during the season when it matters, but I think I scored a header that looped over him as well. I was onside but I think Gime was just off – that’s the game.
“Scoring is a big part of my game, getting up there and putting my head on things, and I think other players in our team will be looking to do the same. It’s about building on what we did last season.
“That’s why the gaffer has us doing a lot of ball work. You still feel it fitness wise but it’s good to be doing it with the ball. At the end of the day we play football, and it’s all about us controlling the ball, controlling games and getting more comfortable with it.
“I’ve still got things I want to work on and get better at, and that’s the same with the other players.”
Once again taking on the vice-captain role, he commented: “It’s always an honour to captain or vice-captain Carlisle.
“Along with Callum, who is doing a great job so far, it’s really great. We have plenty of leaders in the dressing room with the likes of me, Cal, Joe, Lewi, Tristan, everyone. You can look in all areas and they’re all over the pitch.
“That’s why it doesn’t really matter who has the armband because it’s a bunch of leaders and the focus from all of us is really intensifying now.
“We’re zoning in, as it needs to, because we’re coming up to the start of the season in the next few weeks. It’s paramount that we really focus on that first game against Colchester.
“Everyone knows it’s a big day, hopefully getting fans back in and getting that buzz going again. We want to start like we did last year and really put smiles on people’s faces again.”
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