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Monday, 22 December 2014

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Making play-offs would be bigger than Wembley cup win, says Carlisle Utd boss

Carlisle United manager Greg Abbott has declared that the Blues forcing their way into the play-offs tomorrow would be a bigger achievement than winning at Wembley.

Greg Abbott photo
Greg Abbott and assistant Graham Kavanagh

If the Cumbrians upset the odds by claiming sixth place on the last day of the campaign, Abbott says the feat would carry more “prestige” even than the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy victory last season. Abbott’s team must win at Oldham in front of an expected travelling support of more than 3,000 to give themselves a chance of glory.

And if sixth-placed Stevenage then fail to beat Bury, and seventh-placed Notts County lose or draw against Colchester, victory will secure United a play-off semi-final against one of the Sheffield giants.

The Carlisle manager already regards this season as a big success and if tomorrow’s afternoon of drama goes in the Cumbrians’ favour, it would be their crowning glory.

“Believe me, it will be a real achievement,” said Abbott. “I thought the cup runs have been fantastic, because we had to overcome a lot of strong teams in those and the revenue it brought the club was really important.

“But the prestige that goes with this, the fact that after 46 games we would finish in the top six – that would be a heck of an achievement.

“And there is no luck involved after 46 games. We deserve to be where we are and it’s been a monumental effort from everybody.”

Abbott insists he will be able to blank out news from Stevenage’s Lamex Stadium and Notts County’s Meadow Lane tomorrow – the two grounds where United’s fate will also be decided.

The United manager said Carlisle cannot afford to be distracted by events elsewhere, claiming that they will only be relevant if his own team does the business at Boundary Park.

“If we’re winning 2-0 I’ll be trying to find out what’s going on,” he said. “Otherwise, I’m not really interested in other situations.

“If we win, I think something will happen. If we don’t, we’ll be booting ourselves badly all the way home.

“But the players will know by the reaction from our end if results are going our way. You can’t stop that spreading.”

He has spent this week testing out two alternative systems as he tries to cope without Jordan Cook, the Sunderland frontman whose 93-day loan ran out last weekend.

Paddy Madden and Mark Beck are his main options in attack against Paul Dickov’s 18th-placed Latics, with midfielders Tom Taiwo and Paul Thirlwell alternatives if he alters formation.

Peter Murphy is hoping for a recall in defence, while the Blues boss has not completely ruled out a surprise late return for Craig Curran, the frontman who remains on loan at Morecambe.

Asked if Curran – who scored Carlisle’s winner at Oldham in the league last season – could be recalled, Abbott said: “It’s something that has entered my head, but I wouldn’t like to give my thoughts away.”

The Blues manager has promised an attacking approach on what he hopes could be a famous day for United and their fans.

“The aim was to keep the season alive and interesting and to take it to the last game is a tribute to the players and the way they have gone about their jobs,” he said.

“The travelling fans are as good as any in our division in terms of the numbers we take as a ratio to our home crowds. Let’s hope we can finish things off well for everybody.”

Abbott played down suggestions he could move for former loan defender Christian Ribeiro, who has been released by Bristol City.

Abbott, who is expected to move quickly on contracts for his current squad, including right-back Frank Simek, once the season is over – said: “He did great for us and if we’re going to move the club forward, he’s the sort we have to be looking at. But we have our own players’ futures to talk about first.”

United have released defender Steven Swinglehurst and midfielder Ben Mckenna.

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