I was sorry to hear about the death of Carlisle-born former Liverpool and England winger Peter Thompson.

We went to school together, although he was a fair few years older than me. I didn’t keep in regular contact with him, but I bumped into him on quite a few occasions. He was a lovely bloke.

He sent me a letter when I first played for Carlisle, just to congratulate me. I wasn’t a big one for memorabilia but I kept that letter for some reason.

Back on the pitch, John Sheridan’s side have enjoyed a quite remarkable festive period.

Shortly before Christmas, I can remember saying this probably is the most crucial part of the season so far for the Blues. From those five matches in 17 days, 10 points would have been a great return. But a full house of 15 points out 15 for United is incredible, and I’m not sure if I can remember anyone ever doing that before.

If Carlisle’s board have any ambition at all, they have simply got to back Sheridan in the January transfer window.

We have already mentioned it a lot this campaign, but there is a great opportunity to get out of the league.

From the position he was in when he took charge of the Cumbrians in June, Sheridan has performed a miracle, really. Hopefully, he will get the backing of the board.

I’m sure there will be players who are keen on joining Carlisle. With Sheridan’s side in the League Two play-offs, I’m sure they’ll be players with ambitions to get promoted who will want to be joining the Brunton Park outfit.

It was disappointing to see Jerry Yates leave to return to parent club Rotherham, although it seems United haven’t given up all hope on getting the 22-year-old back at some stage this month.

The loan system is a big thing for lower-league clubs, but it’s just a shame to see Yates go after having just hit goal-scoring form for Carlisle.

Next up for the Blues is third-placed Mansfield. That will be a real test for United but I’m sure their players will walk on to the pitch full of confidence.

I believe Carlisle have shown this term they should fear nobody. They earned a point against leaders Lincoln, drawing 2-2 at Sincil Bank in October, and the side have come on a long way since then, too.

The 1,784 Blues fans who went to the Globe Arena on New Year’s Day to watch United beat Morecambe 2-0 also deserve real credit.

It’s like an extra man when you have that many people supporting you away from home. I have played in matches like that, and the atmosphere the away fans create gives you a lift, right from the start of the game.

Popular Cumbrian Gavin Skelton was also appointed as Workington Reds’ new manager on New Year’s Eve.

He has spent the last couple of seasons working in Carlisle’s academy, alongside academy boss Darren Edmondson, and you can sometimes forget that people like Skelton do actually have decent records in senior management.

His grandad, George, was always a great Carlisle United supporter. I wish Gavin all the best.

Skelton started his second rein at Borough Park with a 2-1 loss to Stalybridge Celtic, with both Gari Rowntree and Dan Wordsworth red-carded, and it will be a minor miracle if they steer clear of Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division relegation this season.

But, hopefully, it will be a good 2019 for him.