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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

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Carlisle Utd boss Greg Abbott warns Zoko move may be mistake

Greg Abbott has warned video star Francois Zoko that “the grass isn’t greener” as the manager revealed his hopes that the Ivorian will stay at Carlisle United.

Francois Zoko photo
Francois Zoko

Frontman Zoko will be a key man for the Blues’ in today’s must-win clash with Exeter (Brunton Park, 3pm) but his long-term future has also been under the microscope this week.

The talented African was the subject of a highlights package put together by his agent and uploaded to YouTube, raising fears that Zoko is being touted for a move away from Carlisle.

But Abbott says the 28-year-old, out of contract at the end of the season, would be wise to remember how his career in England has flourished at Brunton Park.

“That [the video] is what agents do – it’s the way of the world, and no doubt it would be great for the agent to move Francois on and make a few quid,” said the play-off chasing Blues boss.

“But sometimes the grass isn’t always greener.

“Francois has been looked after by this football club. We owe gratitude to him for the good football he has produces, but I think he owes us for the way we have handled him and integrated him into the English way of life.”

Abbott insisted he had no problem with the YouTube video itself, joking: “Next he’ll be wearing a t-shirt with ‘Bosman’ on it.”

The Blues boss did, though, stress that he needs a big effort from players and fans today - not just for Carlisle’s play-off cause, but also to help tie down his out-of-contract players, who include Zoko, James Berrett, Tom Taiwo, Danny Livesey, Peter Murphy, Frank Simek and Lubo Michalik.

“I don’t think people can have too many grumbles about our home form and style of football this season, and I think the players deserve a big crowd,” added Abbott, who admitted work on contracts was ongoing as he prepared his side for this afternoon's crucial game.

“An extra 500-1,000 might just make inroads into a player staying, in terms of the extra money to get us over the line with them.”

Abbott, who will see Jordan Cook play the last game of his loan spell, is weighing up the claims of JP McGovern and Matty Robson for a start today in a game Carlisle must win to give themselves their best chance of reclaiming sixth place.

The Cumbrians will be out of the race if they do not get a better result than sixth-placed Stevenage, who go to Sheffield United. But a positive day of results could put the Blues firmly back in contention going into the final weekend.

Abbott said: “We’ve just got to make sure we win our games and be ready to jump into that sixth place if anyone slips up.”

Exeter are five points adrift of safety and must win today to stand any chance of survival. “They need to win and hope for a miracle,” Abbott added. “They won’t come and roll over. Anything we get will be well earned.”

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