Midfielder Alfie McCalmont joined the Blues on a half-season loan deal from Premier League side Leeds United on Monday afternoon, and he spoke straight away about his determination to make an impact through the important second half of the campaign.
“Being part of a promotion winning team is something I haven’t experienced yet, and that was a big part of me coming to the decision that this is where I wanted to go,” he told us.
“My last loan was at Morecambe and that was more of a relegation scrap. Coming to a team that’s fourth in the league, and where the top three go up, that’s a really good position to be in.
“With 20-odd games to go I want to try and help so I’ll be working first to get myself into the team, and let’s see if we can get promoted.”
Getting the signature sorted early in the window is also a plus, particularly with United about to get back to action following their enforced break last weekend.
“It was probably a few weeks ago now when I was told that there had been some interest, so I’ve been sat at Leeds waiting for the call,” he said. “That call came the other day, so it’s been a case of waiting for it to get going then coming here to meet the lads.
“As soon as you hear that there’s interest like this you just want to go and do it. Being at Leeds is really good, but I wanted to be playing competitive football again.
“I’ve been training and playing games over there to keep my fitness up so that when it was all done I’d be ready to go straight at it and get into the games.
"Training with the Leeds first team is fantastic, the quality is brilliant, but I really want to be playing games. I want to be out there and competing.”
“There were a few other options, but Carlisle was the one I wanted to do,” he continued. “It was the one that really interested me because when you look into it you hear about the fan base - you get a good crowd here - and you see how well they’re doing in the league.
“He spoke about what the team have done so far and what the aim is, and he spoke about how he sets the team up. I liked the sound of everything he said, and from what I’ve seen they’re playing some really good football.
“I just want to get straight in and hopefully make a mark."
Having been through the spells with Oldham and Morecambe, the staff at Elland Road left him with a simple message.
“They’ve told me to come here and enjoy myself and play as many games as I can,” he confirmed. “That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.
"I spoke to the gaffer [Jessie Marsh] before I left, I had to go in to get my boots, and he said that he'll be keeping an eye on. He's going to get the clips and monitor how I'm doing here and hopefully he'll have seen some good stuff come the summer.
“I’ve been on loan a couple of times so I know what it’s all about. I’ve been at this level before so it’s not like I’m going in blind. I know what to expect, so I’ll be going into it to do my best.
“Hopefully I can do what I did last time I was on loan because I scored a few goals with Oldham. It’d be good to do something like that again.
“From the two years I’ve had out on loan I think I’ve learned a lot and hopefully those experiences will help me with this one and I can bring it into the team.
“You learn loads, to be honest. I was 19 when I did my first one and it did feel like I was going into it for the first time a bit blind, and going into the changing room was a really different experience.
“Then you quickly pick up on how much competitive football means to the fans, and the staff, and getting three points is absolutely everything.
“When every point matters it adds so much to a match day. With Carlisle being where they are in the league we obviously want to stay in the play-off places at the very least, so we’ll do what we can.”
When asked to describe himself as a player, he said: “I like to get on the ball, get about the pitch and put balls forward and into the box.
“I like to think I can play anywhere in midfield and the manager has said that he can see me as a holding midfielder or even as more of an offensive midfielder.
“I’m happy to do either job, whatever the manager asks of me whenever it comes to what he needs me to do in the games.
“I know I have to earn my place but I’m ready to give it my all. That starts on the training ground, that’s where I can catch the manager’s eye, and hopefully that gets me into the team.
“Through the last three or four months I’ve been waiting to get to a good club, and now the chance has come I’m ready for the challenge.
“I’ve missed that Saturday-Tuesday feeling. It’s when you know it’s important because it’s all about recovery and playing the games. It’s the best bit about football. I’ve prepared myself for the last couple of months to make sure I’m ready to head into this big run of games.”
His background at Leeds gives him a solid foundation as he comes into Brunton park for his latest challenge.
“I’ve been at Leeds for a long time now, since I was about eight, it’s my home, I have a house there and it’s the club I support,” he commented. “I’ve played for the first team a few times and that was a great experience. It meant a lot to wear the strip and that’s all you want, to be playing games.
“It’s all about being here now and I know I need to come here and do the best for Carlisle because that’s my job, at the end of the day, and I’m looking forward to doing my bit.
“It’s always nerve-wracking when you come to a new changing room. You obviously want to be liked and it’s good that I know Ryan Edmondson. He’s talked about what a good group of lads it is and how everybody really enjoys coming into work.
“The main reason you’re at any club is to play football and do well. Hopefully that’s what I’ll do.”
And he’ll have one eye on adding to the caps he’s already made with the senior Northern Ireland team.
“My dad is from Northern Ireland [Carrickfergus] and my mum’s mum is from there as well [Belfast], so they were really proud when I got called up,” he told us. “I started with the under-16s for my country and I’ve managed to work my way up. Playing for the seniors is obviously the best part.
“I went with them in the summer and going to these different countries is a great experience. You play against different types of players and it’s a real challenge, and hopefully what I do here at Carlisle will put me back into the senior fold.
“If I keep doing well then maybe I’ll be back with Northern Ireland at some point.”
“Making my debut was amazing, I was only 18 and it was at Windsor Park against Luxembourg. It’s something I’ll always remember, I was really proud, and it was nice to be able to do it a few more times as well.
“Every time you pull the shirt on it’s just a fantastic feeling that you’re representing your country. Like I say, another reason for coming here is that if I play well it could help me to establish myself in the Northern Ireland senior team.”
But what about pulling that Carlisle shirt on for the first time?
“It’ll be great,” he said. “I remember coming here with Oldham but it was Covid and there weren’t any fans.
“That was a bit of a weird one with it all being so empty, but I’ve been watching Carlisle’s games on a Saturday and the crowd looks brilliant.
“Seeing over 8,000 on Boxing Day was superb and that’s what I want to be playing in front of, and hopefully scoring goals for them.”