Keith Curle hails returning Carlisle Utd man Gary Liddle after man-of-the-match display

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Keith Curle has hailed the "exceptional" display of Gary Liddle in Carlisle United's defence at the start of the Blues' four-match spell without Tom Parkes.

Liddle looks set to keep his place in the back four at Colchester this weekend after a man-of-the-match display against Exeter.

The former Chesterfield and Notts County man's performance alongside Clint Hill was an encouraging part of the Cumbrians' 1-0 defeat which sent them down to 16th in League Two.

With Parkes banned for the next three games, Curle believes January signing Liddle can prove a sound replacement.

"It was an opportunity for Gary to come in and I thought he did exceptionally well," Curle said.

"There was a good understanding between himself and Clint.

"You'd say, when you've got one centre-back missing for four games, you have a very, very good replacement in Gary Liddle.

"He stepped up to the mark and did an admirable job alongside Clint, who was again consistent, reliable and dependable, even in the latter stages going up and being a makeshift centre-forward.

"Gary was playing in his preferred position, even though he has the versatility to play in midfield, full-back and opposite side centre-back."

Liddle got the nod ahead of Tom Miller for the task of replacing Parkes, who is serving suspension after his red card at Crawley.

This Saturday, they must keep at bay a 15th-placed Colchester side who have scored 13 goals in their six home games so far.

The Blues will be hoping for better fortunes in Essex than last season when they fell to a 4-1 defeat.

But United's current fortunes on the road are better than their returns at home, with back-to-back away victories coming amid a series of defeats at Brunton Park.

Curle admitted recent results at home have increased pressure on his side to continue their improved form away from home.

But he insisted playing at Brunton Park should hold no fear for the Cumbrians.

"I want to play at home. Give me the option, every single fixture I'd play a home game and the players are the same," he said.

"They enjoy the preparation and the fantastic playing surface. All we need is that result.

"It is being made a factor now because we're not winning at home. As soon as we do, and we're able to maintain the level of performances away from home, we'll start climbing up this league."

United’s reserves, meanwhile, beat Wigan 4-2 in their second Central League Reserve Cup fixture yesterday.

Big striker Sam Cosgrove scored the Cumbrians’ first goal as he cancelled out Wigan’s opener, which was scored inside the first 22 seconds.

A United trialist gave them the lead, but experienced Irishman Noel Hunt equalised for the Lactics on the stroke of half-time.

Another Carlisle trialist scored after the restart, before Samir Nabi completed the scoring with a penalty.

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