Fit-again captain Danny Grainger says Carlisle United must not shy away from the pressure of delivering a much-needed FA Cup run this weekend.

The Blues are preparing for Saturday’s first round trip to Crewe where they could sorely do with the financial boost of making progress in the famous competition.

The Cumbrians will pocket £36,000 in prize money if they beat the Railwayman - a considerable boost given this season’s reduced budget and falling attendances.

The opportunity to galvanise their season by reaching the third round, with the potential of facing top-flight opposition, is another major incentive for John Sheridan and his players.

Grainger, whose stunning strike against Newport last weekend ended United’s recent barren run at home, says there can be no getting away from the significance of this Saturday’s fixture.

“It’s a big one this weekend,” the Cumbrian defender said.

“It’s part of football - you’ve got to put pressure on yourselves.

“The FA Cup is a fantastic competition and you want the excitement of looking at the draw with your name still in the hat.”

United have still to confirm how many of their five loan players will be available for the tie.

Sheridan will also hope to have at least one of his injured players back in contention, with Hallam Hope among those on the comeback trail.

After Grainger’s return to fitness coincided with the Blues getting back on track at home, the skipper says United are now facing a crucial run of games in league and cup which will determine the direction of their campaign.

Carlisle face key fixtures in the league, FA Cup and Checkatrade Trophy in the next week and Grainger added: “This is the big period, between now and the end of January, when the window is shut.

“This is your time when you learn what’s going to happen in your season.

“Hopefully we’ve had our little blip of seven or eight games. I’m sure if we can put a good run together going into this time of the year we won’t be far away.”

This weekend’s game will be the fifth FA Cup meeting between Crewe and Carlisle, the Railwaymen having won three and United one of those encounters.

They last met in the competition in December 2008 when Crewe won 2-0 at Brunton Park thanks to two goals from striker Shaun Miller, who is now back with Alex after a two-year spell with the Blues.

Saturday’s hosts are asking supporters to take their seats earlier than usual before the game as they hold Remembrance tributes.

A minute’s silence will be observed, as well as a laying of a wreath and the playing of The Last Post.

Home players will also wear poppy armbands.