Gavin Skelton said he was surprised but delighted to be offered the extra security of a longer deal at Carlisle United.

The Cumbrian was yesterday handed a new 18-month contract as assistant head coach to new boss Chris Beech.

It confirmed United’s faith in 38-year-old Skelton, who was previously No2 to Steven Pressley and acted as caretaker manager for two games until Beech’s arrival.

The new management team will be in the dugout for tomorrow’s FA Cup second round tie at Forest Green.

Skelton said: “I was surprised, because there’s been lots going on.

“To think of myself and my contract situation, I’m really pleased and grateful they have looked at me and felt I was doing a reasonable job, a good job, and they want to extend that so I can work with the new manager and try and push the club forward.

“It’s nice to get sorted out. Contracts mean a bit of security but not total security in football, so it’s up to me to work hard. But I’m really pleased and grateful to the club for showing support to myself.”

Skelton said the club have kept him fully updated throughout the recent process of appointing Beech.

He was in temporary charge for the 2-1 defeat to Port Vale and the 0-0 draw with Cambridge while the Blues looked for Pressley’s successor.

Skelton said: “It was nice to be in charge and is something people can’t take away from me.

“I’ve done it before, so it’s adding to that learning, and you’re always learning. You learn a lot and learn a lot about people.

“I’m really pleased they have shown the confidence in me, and the club from the outset kept me up to date with stuff.”

Skelton said he is looking forward to getting to know Beech in a short space of time with fourth-bottom United urgently needing better results in League Two.

They face a crucial clash with bottom side Morecambe a week after the Forest Green cup test.

Skelton said of Beech: “He is very open and enthusiastic, he’s got his own ideas and has been very open with his ideas.

“You’re desperate for results, so it’s hammer and tongs and you’re right at it, giving as much information as you can.

“There’s lots he’s trying to find out – everything in the building, opposition – but he’s well-prepared and has prepared himself knowing our players. It’s the finer details he’s asking. I’ve got the inside track on a lot of things and that can certainly help him.

“We’ve spoken a lot already in the last two or three days. We are both football people. Some of his ideas mirror mine. I look forward to working with him.”

Skelton admits tomorrow’s trip to the New Lawn will be tough for United against League Two’s second-placed side.

But he said a victory can not only give the struggling Blues the possibility of a big third-round draw, but convince the team they can take points off some of their division’s better sides.

Most of United’s wins this season have come against lower opposition. They drew 0-0 with Forest Green at Brunton Park in September.

He said: “People say the league is your bread and butter but the FA Cup – it doesn’t matter if you’re a fan, player, coach – it’s exciting.

“It’s a very tough game against Forest Green. They’ll be confident at home but we’ll go there in good heart and you are desperate to get through, because the third round is where you want to be when all the big-hitters come into it.

“They are a good side. They move the ball well. Different to a lot of games we’ve played, they’re very patient and try to probe, so it’s important we concentrate throughout – you might think they are in safe possession but then they’ll pick you off like they have many teams this year. That’s why they are near the top of the league.

“We respect them, they’re up there for a reason, but we’ve shown on our day that if we perform to our levels for 90 minutes we’re a match for anyone.

“It’s finding that consistency and doing the basics well. Giving yourself a platform to get a result.”

Mark Cooper’s side have only conceded six goals in nine home games this campaign, but United have never lost an away game against the Nailsworth outfit.

Skelton added: “There’s a little bit of pressure on them, and a little bit off us subconsciously – but not in terms of us going there expecting to get a result. We’re desperate to get to the third round.

“They’re on a good run, the league position shows that, they played Tuesday night in a tight affair against Crewe [a 0-0 draw]. We know how they play, it’s managing them and making sure we can capitalise on where we see their weaknesses.

“Sometimes it [the cup] can be a break from the league mentally, the strains of it, but I think the big thing is getting the result against one of those teams [at the top of the division] that can change that mindset.

“Even if you’re not thinking it, subconsciously you can have that in your head. So it’s vital we get out, start well and that can flip into your league form against the top sides.”