Mike Jones admits Carlisle United must kick their draw habit if they want to remain in the promotion race.

The back-in-favour midfielder says Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Cambridge “felt like a defeat” as it increased the gap to the play-offs to three points.

Experienced Jones knows that only wins will keep the Blues’ chances alive, but he says they should have nothing to fear from their forthcoming run of games against high-flying opponents.

He said: “I’ve always said draws don’t take you up, they probably take you down.

“No-one really enjoys drawing unless you’re against a big team away in the cup.

“I’ve always hated it in my career, especially when you come out of a game knowing you should have won.

“We are doing the right things in games and we have to keep doing that, and hopefully it will come off.

“We’ve got some tough games coming up but every game is tough in this league and there isn’t a massive gap between anyone.

“Tranmere, Bury, Lincoln – that won’t scare us. We’re easily capable of beating any of them on our day.”

Eighth-placed United’s run of one win in nine games has led to increased frustration but Jones has defended the Blues’ style of play.

He says the number of chances they have created recently suggests they will rediscover the winning habit soon.

“If you keep creating chances you win more games than you lose,” the 31-year-old said. “You’d be more worried if we weren’t creating chances. We could have had a hatful [at Forest Green] last week and it was the same against Cambridge.

“We’ve got a lot of players comfortable on the ball, like Regan Slater, Callum O’Hare and Jamie Devitt, who is brilliant in that little pocket. That’s when you see the best of us, playing through the lines and creating chances.

“We have to keep doing that and trusting each other. We haven’t got the personnel to be chipping it forward and going off a big man.”

Jones is also hoping to keep his place having ended a recent spell out of the side when he was recalled against Forest Green.

That coincided with the absence of fellow midfielder Kelvin Etuhu, who has missed the last two games after the birth of his son.

He is expected to be available this week but Jones is determined to remain in the side.

“It’s been the biggest break of my career in terms of sitting on the bench for that long when I know I’m fit and well,” he said.

“I’m here to play, I want to play football, and sitting on the bench doesn’t interest me. I absolutely hate it. I’ve made moves before in my career, even jumping down a level, just to play football.

“It was tough and testing, but one thing I’ve always done, which probably comes from my family and background, is I keep working hard. If you keep working hard and grafting, things will turn for you, and the last coupe of games finally got my chance and hopefully I’ve taken it.

“There’s no point slacking in training and not doing those extra bits, because when your chance does come you’ll be found out.

“It does get you down when you’re out of the team, but there’s no point in whining about it. I’m not that kind of character. I like to have a smile on my face.

“I didn’t think it would take that long but when it did, I’ve felt really fit. I feel good and glad to be back in the team, helping the lads out as much as I can. All I can do is the best I can when I get the chance. If that’s enough, happy days. If not, we’ll see what happens. All I can do is put the shirt on and give 100 per cent like I always do.”

Jones will this weekend return to a familiar ground, having started his career at Prenton Park.

He came through the youth ranks at the Wirral Club and made 13 senior appearances for Tranmere.

“It’s where I was since I was about 12 years old, all the way through to 20-21,” he said.

“I’ve got a lot of time for the club. It’s a brilliant club and, like ourselves, should be at a higher level.

“They shouldn’t have been anywhere near where they were [in non-league last season]. They’ve got a good fanbase and a good, nice stadium – it’s all in place.

“I’ve still got a lot of family back home and they haven’t been to a game for a while, so it will be nice for them to go there.

“It will be nice for me to return there but there’ll be no emotion – I’ll be going there for Carlisle to get the three points.”

Jones, meanwhile, admits he is desperate to break his league goalscoring for the Blues after going close against both Forest Green and Cambridge.

Saves by the respective keepers means his 89-game wait for a league goal went on.

His only goal in a United shirt came in his sixth appearance for the club, against Derby in the League Cup in 2016. He has made 108 Blues outings in all competitions.

“I need one of those lucky ones off someone’s head or back that sends the keeper the wrong way,” he said.

“My goal ratio here is ridiculously bad. The keeper made a good save [on Saturday] and there’s not much more I can do.

“All I can do is keep hitting the target and hopefully one will go in for me one of these days.”