Carlisle boss Keith Millen confirmed at his pre-match press conference that injured duo Jon Mellish and Brennan Dickenson are still undergoing treatment, with midfielder Mellish the closest to a return to action.
“Jon is the nearest, Brennan has gone for a scan on his knee just to make sure everything is ok, but apart from that the rest are out long-term as we knew they were,” he said.
“Brennan I think, I hope, it’s just precautionary, the scan, because he has got a bit of swelling. He’s obviously got history of the knee before. I’m hoping it’s just precautionary to clear his head.
“Jon’s improving, he’s the closest one to being able to be involved. We just have to see each day, if there’s any reaction from the work he’s done previously.”
“We have no fresh injuries, but we have a few who are a little bit tired, the new boys especially,” he added. “Tobi lasted 90 minutes and I didn’t really want to have to play him the full game.
“He kept going, he’s obviously very tired now, so I’ve had to look after him a little bit. You could see that Owen got tired, and it was a tough decision when you’re chasing the game to think about which one could last the 90 minutes and which one to take off.
“That’s not ideal at the moment with all the injuries we have, because a lot of the players haven’t been used to playing full games.
“That’s something you have to think about when you’re picking the team because you can’t have three players who can’t last that long just in case somebody comes off through injury.
“We have the long-term injuries we know about but we don’t really have anything else coming back yet.”
Looking back again at the lessons learned from the Port Vale game, he commented: “I think the manner of the goals we conceded disturbed us and affected our game and our confidence.
“When I look at it as the manager, it was more the way we were playing - as in, are we being disciplined and organised defensively, are we being effective going forward, and when you look at the game the answer will be no to both.
“Everyone has a bad game, but we’ve been giving bad goals away. I also wasn’t happy with the way the game went generally, so I need to change something.
“We’ve got to cut out the mistakes because that’s what is costing us massively at the moment. I think six of the ten goals we’ve conceded in this four-game run have been our own fault, so that’s something I need to look at and help the players with.
“We need to find a way of playing that is going to cut out those mistakes from a defensive point of view.
“That’s something we’ll look at in terms of tactics and personnel, we’ve got to be more effective going forward and we’ve got to stop playing in bad areas and giving the ball away. That’s what’s hurting us at the moment.”
And on the work being done to help to turn the corner, he told us: “We haven’t been able to have an aggressive training session where we really get them fired up, because we’ve had to try and recover from the game on Tuesday.
“It’s been more about discussions inside in the meeting room then doing a bit of work outside. We’ve tried to get as much information into them as possible on Wednesday and Thursday.
“As far as the aggression in our mindset, that’s something we’ll talk about a bit more over the next couple of days, and we need to see it on Saturday.
“The mindset and the aggressiveness in our game, we haven’t been able to work on practically because of the recovery sessions we’ve been doing.”
Unforced errors have been a real cause for concern over the current run of defeats, with a focus on ironing those out as quickly as possible.
“We are giving the ball away in bad areas at the moment, without a doubt,” he explained. “I’ve got to agree with that. Sometimes when the players aren’t as confident as they have been you have to recognise that as a manager, try and help them make less mistakes and better decisions.
“That’s something we’ve spoken about and need to put right. There’s a lot of things we can do on the training pitch I think that will help us. It’s obviously difficult, we’ve lost five main players that have been playing most of the games this season.
“That would have an impact on any team. We’ve got to get on with it now. That’s a fact not an excuse. We’ve got a lot of new players that we’re trying to educate as quick as possible.
“That’s not an excuse for the four defeats. There’s a lot of reasons why we’ve been on this run and I’ve got to try and put as many of them right as I can on Saturday.
“I do like to work to a structure that everyone can understand and work by, but we’ve lost that for different reasons. That’s probably the biggest upset. It’s not anyone’s fault; we’ve just been a bit unlucky picking this many injuries up so quickly.
“The run of games we’ve had against some of the better teams in the league has coincided with that. There’s not one factor into this poor run, if it was it would probably be a lot easier to solve.
“We’ve got to try and alleviate as many of the reasons as possible. That’s what we’ve tried to do the last two days.”
“It’s my job to set the team up, work out the tactics, work out who’s going to play,” he concluded. “If it doesn’t hurt them losing four games they shouldn’t be here.
“I can’t control that. The mental side I can try and help them with, but it is down to them - if they get the shirt on Saturday, I expect them to be fighting for their lives, and that’s what I’ll be telling them. Unfortunately I can’t do that for them, they have to produce it.”