Caretaker Gavin Skelton insists he will not be distracted if any would-be managers turn up to Carlisle United’s game at Port Vale today.

And the stand-in Blues boss has told the players to give the very best of themselves whoever is watching from the stands.

The League Two game at Vale Park (kick-off 3pm) is United’s first since Steven Pressley’s sacking.

The board have so far only asked Skelton to look after first-team affairs for today’s fixture.

He knows many eyes will be on the Cumbrians this afternoon and says all involved should rise to the challenge.

Skelton said: “I’ll be telling the players to make sure they represent themselves and the team to the best of their ability before they go out on to the pitch.

“People will be looking at us as a team and as individuals.

“I’m sure there will be people watching the game, but whether it’s a reserve game or a training session, there’s always someone watching.

“They’ve got to take responsibility for themselves and their own performances, and if they do that and help their team mates it will give us the best opportunity to get a result.

“I’m sure there will be people watching who have applied for the job but that isn’t my concern. For the players, if that can be a motivation, then that’s great.”

Skelton, assisted by Nathan Rooney and Craig Wight, admitted he will be proud to lead his boyhood club this afternoon.

But he said producing a professional and hopefully successful performance is all that really matters.

The 38-year-old said: “I will be feeling all sorts of emotions. It will be a proud moment for my family. But it’s not about myself, it is about the game and trying to get three points.”

Skelton, who said he has so far not put his CV in for the permanent position, refused to say whether he would make any significant changes to the side in tactics or selection.

It is likely, though, that a number of players rested from Tuesday’s Leasing.Com Trophy defeat at Morecambe will come back in, with the likes of Adam Collin, Gethin Jones, Mike Jones, Harry McKirdy, Olufela Olomola and Nathan Thomas in the frame.

Skelton believes 19th-placed United are capable of better than they have produced so far.

He said: “They certainly can produce better. We’re only 16-17 games in, which seems a lot, but it is a newish team, and as a team there is more to come.

“In the last month or so at times there have been false dawns, but there have been signs that there is a team in there.

“We’re more than capable of getting a result at Port Vale if we apply ourselves in the correct manner.”

United took four points from their last two league games under Pressley and Skelton says they must continue to build in order to avoid getting drawn back into a relegation battle.

“I don’t get obsessed by looking at league tables but you can’t hide the fact of where we are, and we’re desperate to get points to get us higher up the table ASAP,” he said.

Today’s hosts, who are 10th, have five former Blues players in Luke Joyce, David Amoo, Richie Bennett, Mark Cullen and Shaun Brisley.

John Askey’s Vale are unbeaten in six games in all competitions and have not lost at home in the league.

Skelton said: “He [Askey] has a good record, he’s done well there and did well at Macclesfield, and they have got a good mix.

“They can go direct to the big man but also play some good stuff through the middle thirds. They’ve got some exciting players. They performed really well last Saturday [to beat MK Dons 1-0 in the FA Cup] and they’ll be full of confidence.

“It’s a big pitch down there, they’re at home and we know they’ll come out all guns blazing. But we have a game plan and we’ll go there knowing we’ve had a couple of good results recently. We can take confidence from that and we’ll look to put our imprint on the game.

“We know how difficult it will be but we’re confident in our ability. We have to get out there, be on the front foot, try and take it to them and come out with a positive result.”

Skelton asked United’s travelling fans to remain behind the team in spite of any other concerns.

He said: “Please stick with us. At the end of the game, whatever you feel, that’s fine.

“Over 90 minutes it is vital if they get right behind us, which I’m sure they will.

“I’m sure we’ll take a good support down there. I know it isn’t exactly local but it’s one of our closest trips, and our fans always travel in their numbers.

“We’ll make sure we all represent our football club to the best of our abilities.”