Carlisle City boss Jim Nichols hopes his side can continue their history-making run in the FA Vase this weekend.

City take on Charnock Richard at home in the third round on Saturday  – the first time the club have reached this stage of the competition.

The Gillford Park club have already gone one stage better than 2021’s run which ended at the hands of Abbey Hey.

But manager Nichols reckons his current Northern League Division One side are of higher calibre.

“I think we have a far better squad than we had then,” he said.

“Saturday will be tough but we back ourselves, particularly at home, against anybody.

“We want to go as far as we can and it’s a benchmark for teams at this level.

“I’d be surprised if a team from Cumbria had got this far or certainly beyond this.

“It’s a chance to show what we’re about, what sort of team we are and if we can extend [the run] beyond Christmas, who knows where it can lead from there.”

City will have a close eye on the weather in the hope the game will be on, with sub-zero temperatures forecast in the build-up to Saturday.

They have made a solid start to their league season and sit tenth in the table with games in hand.

Nichols’ side also impressed in the Fred Conway Cumberland Cup first round when they took a Carlisle United side full of senior professionals to penalties.

And they sealed their progress to the Vase third round by seeing off Cheadle Town last time out.

City are hoping the fact United don’t have a game this weekend will encourage more fans from Carlisle to head to the Three Rivers Health & Safety Consultancy Stadium to back his side.

“We don’t have any injuries or suspensions to speak of – it means some lads will be disappointed to be left out, but we’ve got a really strong squad, and when you’re going into these big games you want everyone available.”

News and Star: Keelan Leslie recently joined CityKeelan Leslie recently joined City (Image: Barbara Abbott)

City recently bolstered their squad with the signing of former United pro and ex-Workington Reds player Keelan Leslie.

He joins a host of ex-United players in the City ranks.

“Keelan’s got a lot of quality,” said Nichols. “When he first left Carlisle United we spoke to him but he had the option of a higher level with Workington.

“This year we’ve had opportunity to bring him in. I think every single club in Cumbria and the surrounding area will have come in and offered him potentially more than we can, but Keelan wants to be involved in a club that’s going in the right direction.

“He wants to come and enjoy it, and playing with some of his mates as well is a big pull.

“A lot of our players have known each other for years. They’ve all been through that system. A lot of them are in that system [at United] from eight or nine to 16 or 18.

“Being based in Carlisle makes us a logical step – others can sometimes offer more money at higher level but we’re often next on the list and that can work really well for us in terms of our squad.”

Visitors Charnock Richard sit 12th in the North West Counties League Premier Division – like City at Step 5 of the non-league pyramid.

Nichols said: “We’ve had them watched, know what they’re about and it’s a case of roll on Saturday and see how it pans out.

“Charnock are in a bit of a false position in the league – they’ve played lot less games than teams around them.

“I watched them in midweek and they were probably not at their best, but they’ve got some real threats in attacking areas, and at the back they’re not conceding huge amounts.

“We’ll take one game at a time and not think too far ahead – if you do that you let yourself down. We know on any day we can beat anyone and if we’re not at it we can get beaten.

“If we’re still in it after Christmas it goes up a bit in terms of travel, looking at the kinds of teams we could play who we’re not used to facing.”

On the prospect of a boosted attendance, meanwhile, Nichols added: “With no Carlisle [United] game, I’d like to think we could get 3-400. That would be a good crowd for us and show we’re moving in right direction.”