Carlisle United’s Nathan Rooney says it will be like being up against his “brother” when he encounters Crawley boss Gabriele Cioffi today.

The Blues’ first-team coach was No2 at Crawley last season and says he formed a close relationship with the Red Devils’ Italian boss.

Rooney became a recent addition to Steven Pressley’s backroom staff after leaving Sussex for family reasons.

Today’s opener pits him immediately against his previous club and he said: “He [Cioffi] will be the same, still as passionate as ever.

“Me and Gabriele are always in touch.

“[Today] we’ll talk about football, but we won’t talk about how both clubs are doing their work – that’s the game and we’ve got to be professional, we’ve got to help our clubs.

“But he’s a great family man who looked after me a lot.

“We’re like brothers from that point of view and I hope they go a long way this year because Gabriele deserves it, he’s a good man.”

Rooney admits he smiled when he realised his first game as part of United’s coaching set-up would be against Crawley. “Sometimes it’s best to get these games out of the way early,” he said.

Pressley has admitted he would be asking Rooney for some pointers on the Crawley squad.

Asked if there was certain information he could give Pressley, Rooney said: “Of course there is, but there’s also the rest of the teams in the league which I’ve done my homework on last season as well, and in previous times.

“There’s bits of information I’ll always give out if I’ve worked with people in the past.

“But, let’s be honest, everyone’s had a six-seven week pre-season now, there’s new strategies, new ways of working and I’m sure Crawley will have instilled that in pre-season.”

On his time with the Sussex outfit, Rooney added: “Crawley was a really good year – I felt from a football point of view the manager and I really instilled the playing philosophy.

“Crawley did a lot for me. It was coming in and working with Gabriele, who I’ve known for a few years, [and played a] continental style of football.

“What motivates me is working for good people. It was an exciting time. We played against Carlisle a couple of times, got beat twice, and the second to last game of the season [a 4-2 United win] was an exciting game.

“When you turn up to work, you know your responsibilities, that connection with the players, and you know you’re being rewarded if things go right on a Saturday.”

Crawley, in making one of the longest trips of the campaign on the opening day, are likely to be without Ashley Nadesan, the former Blues loan striker, who has just returned to training after an ankle injury.

Joe McNerny is another doubt but summer signings Beryly Lubala, Mason Bloomfield, Jack Powell and Jordan Tunnicliffe could figure.

Cioffi said Crawley have a “clear idea” of how Carlisle are likely to play and suggested April’s game at Brunton Park will have no bearing on today’s encounter.