Keith Curle has urged his Carlisle United players who are unsure about their long-term futures to make the most of the Blues' run-in.

United's boss said he is not "ignoring" the fact that a number of his squad are approaching the final stages of their contracts.

Many will not learn their fate until the end of the season, and Curle says the remaining nine-games with play-off chasing Carlisle can be the ideal shop window.

"It's something I haven't ignored," the manager said.

"I've had conversations with the players that are out of contract at the end of the season, [and said] this is your opportunity to showcase what you've got, both for us and our supporters, but also for future employers if you're not offered a contract here.

"That's nothing to be embarrassed about, nothing to hide away from. It's a challenge. They're professional footballers coming to the end of their contract, and they've got an opportunity to go out and perform, and to showcase their abilities.

"There's no better place than showcasing than Saturday afternoons out on the field of play, and that's what they're striving to do. First and foremost, get yourself in the team, then put in performances that you're proud of."

Curle is in a similar position, his own deal up in the summer, with no further talks having been held about a possible extension.

United's boss said the focus at the club remains on results, and Carlisle's bid to force their way into the League Two play-offs.

They host Crawley tomorrow and, after a five-game unbeaten run, Curle is hoping for another good result to lift spirits further.

"Results do change the mentality of certain people," he said.

"We've got a very positive group, and in the coaching staff, we've always got one eye on the bigger picture.

"We appreciate the knock-on effect our results can have not only on our immediate staff at the club but also our local community.

"If we get on a run and a bounce, that reverberates around the city as well. When we're doing well, everyone has a smile on their face, Carlisle's a good place to be and you get mentioned in very positive terms.

"Likewise, if things aren't going right on the pitch, because of the part we play in our local community, Saturday afternoons don't become something to look forward to.

"We want people to be upbeat and buoyant when they're walking into the stadium, to be entertained. They pay their money, and we want to put on performances that, first and foremost, they get value for money [from], but ultimately as a football department, we want to win games.

"We want people to walk away from here talking about what they've seen on the pitch, players, stand-out performances, favourite players, rather than who's sat in the directors' box, how long the manager's got left in the technical area - they're conversations for Tuesdays and Thursdays."

Curle also believes United's recent form is reminiscent of their strong run in the autumn of 2016.

"There's more of an intensity about our play and we feel as if we're able to force games now," he said.

"There was a time last season, with Charlie Wyke, Jabo Ibehre and Jason Kennedy firing, when we were able to force games, putting pressure and intensity on teams.

"I think we've gone back to that intensity and there's a feeling amongst the group that we can cause teams problems."

Tomorrow's opponents have won eight of their last 12 games having started 2018 well under Harry Kewell.

They are now 12th, two places and three points adrift of United.

Curle admits Crawley have improved considerably from their early season efforts.

"When the manager came in there was an expectancy of being able to get results. He went through a stiff learning curve at the beginning of the season, and he's adapted and adjusted to the division," the Carlisle boss said.

"They didn't start the season very well, but they had a very good run, and picked up a lot of points over a short period.

"Recently they haven't had the bank of results they would have wanted, and they will be looking for a springboard to get back on a run.

"I think I've got a good understanding of how they'll try and play. They are expansive at home, and slightly more protective away. They try and congest play [in midfield] but they are still a threat.

"They have good players with pace and dynamics, and are decent in wide areas. You'd probably say they are more likely to pick up points at home with the way they play.

"Will he [Kewell] be brave enough to play that expansive way away against a team in form?

"It will be end-to-end. Not so much free-flowing, because the pitch isn't conducive to playing between lines and gaps, but a very energetic game."

On the injury front, meanwhile, Curle said: "Tom Miller will probably be two weeks, Kelvin Etuhu potentially four or five.

"We're hoping Nicky Adams will be on the grass jogging next week. That will be purely to get his movement patterns and dynamics back.

"The attitude of all the injured lads has been very good."