Rod McDonald hopes Carlisle United can tomorrow get the better of the club where he started his professional career.

The centre-half returns to Oldham for the Blues’ Carabao Cup tie – a decade after joining the Latics as a young player.

Experienced McDonald says he is not out to prove a point to Oldham many years after leaving the club to drop into non-league.

The 28-year-old simply hopes Carlisle can chalk up a first win of the season and claim their place in Sunday’s second round draw.

Reflecting on his time at Oldham, he said: “It was my first professional club, so it’s been quite a journey.

“I didn’t really get many games under [Paul] Dickov. I was on the bench a few times and then I just went out on loan to Nantwich. That was when I ended up signing for Colwyn Bay.

“I had to drop into non-league before getting back into the Football League. I had a talk with my mum and dad at the time and they asked me if I wanted to go and sit on the bench again at another club or if it was more important for me to be playing football. I chose to play games.

“Everybody always thinks it’s been easy for a professional footballer, but it just isn’t sometimes – you’ve got to work hard and there are a lot of good lads out there in non-league who don’t make it.

“It’s a tough but good learning curve if you do come through. It probably taught me a lot about how to cope mentally, and it made me become a better defender.

“I wasn’t the strongest of lads at the age of 18 or 19 so I had to learn how to be clever around bigger and stronger lads.”

Asked if he would be out to remind Oldham what they are missing this weekend, the centre-half said: “No, not really, I don’t think I’ve got a point to prove to anybody at Oldham at all.”

This weekend’s tie will be United’s first game against a fellow League Two side after a number of games against third-tier opposition recently, including Tuesday’s EFL Trophy defeat to Fleetwood.

The behind-closed-doors tie is Oldham’s first outing under new boss Harry Kewell.

McDonald said: “It’s an important game and it’s a cup game so we all want to win it.

“With that competition, if you win a couple of games you end up playing some really big teams, which is what we all want.

“We’ve played against a high standard of team during pre-season and on Tuesday night, so it gives us a good idea of where we’ll be at once the league season starts. We’ve done well against all of the teams we’ve played.

“Saturday will be the first time we’ve played a League Two team so we’ll be looking at ourselves and seeing where we’re at. It will be a good time to get a good result.”

McDonald says it is still early days for a new-look squad but stressed the importance of putting some reliable form together.

He said: “Everybody has bought into what the gaffer wants. We’ve got a lot of new lads so it will take a bit of time, but I think we’re getting there.

“We’ve got to be consistent. I think it’s also important that if we do lose a game or two, we can’t worry about it. Especially this season, the games are going to come around quickly so a lot can change in a week.”

McDonald’s defensive partner Aaron Hayden said this week that United must not accept too much praise for performances when they end in defeats such as Tuesday’s.

McDonald shared this view and said: “The lads came in after the game on Tuesday night and it was like we’d lost the final which is nice to see. We’ve got high standards straight away and I think that’s important.

“As experienced players we want to help maintain those standards, but even the young lads had their say on Tuesday which is really encouraging. Nobody was happy to lose and everyone is happy to say what’s on their mind.

“I don’t think the scoreline reflected the game, but we still got beat 3-1 and that’s football. There are plenty of positives to take, and it’s good that we’ve got another game so soon. We can’t get too high or too low because there are going to be so many games.”

On his fledgling centre-half partnership with vice-captain Hayden, meanwhile, former Wimbledon and Coventry man McDonald added: “I think we’ve clicked from the moment we started playing together. We know our strengths and our weaknesses now and I think we’ve got aspects that complement each other.

“I was similar to Aaron about five years ago when I was coming through at Northampton. I had Zander Diamond looking after me and advising me and I hope I can help Aaron just as much as I’ve been helped.

“To be fair, it may be that he lacks experience but the guy doesn’t shut up next to me, which is excellent. He keeps me on my toes by doing that.”

If United make it through against Oldham they will be involved in both the second and third round draws, which will take place on Sunday.

The round two draw is unseeded and will remain regionalised. Upon its completion, each tie will given a number in the order that they came out in the round two draw, and they will then be subject to another unseeded draw on an either/or basis.

Some 13 Premier League clubs not competing in Europe will join the draw at the second round stage, with the remaining top-flight clubs coming in at the third round draw.

Sky Sports will host the draw, which will be conducted by Former Liverpool and Republic of Ireland defender Phil Babb.

"Having the draws conducted together will enable the EFL, clubs and broadcasters to plan with additional clarity and certainty over a busy period of fixtures whilst supporters are unable to attend fixtures," the League said.