Rhys Bennett insists he cannot expect to walk straight into a winning team as he starts life as a Carlisle United player.

The former Peterborough centre-half is hoping to make his mark for the Cumbrians, who host Cheltenham tomorrow.

But experienced Bennett accepts he will face a battle to dislodge one of Chris Beech’s players from a side sitting fifth in League Two after a good run of form.

The 29-year-old, who has signed a short-term deal, said: “The fact is that I’ve come in at a time when the club is doing really well, so why should I expect it just to happen for me when that’s the case?

“I’m going to have to fight very hard just to get myself into contention, but that’s no bad thing.

“From what I’ve seen this club is going places and I want to do what I can to help.”

Bennett had been tracked by Beech – his former Rochdale coach – for some time.

He had trained with United earlier this week before agreeing to join until January.

It is thought his arrival may open the door for a loan departure from the Blues in the near future.

But Bennett’s challenge will be to force his way into a back line which has been consistently manned by Aaron Hayden and Rod McDonald at centre-half, with Max Hunt in reserve.

The ex-Mansfield player has been a free agent after leaving League One side Posh and said he was pleased to have joined a new club.

He said: “It’s been hard. I think the last time I played football was before March, so I’m relieved that I’m able to get back to doing it.

“It’s completely different to normal [in the Covid-19 climate] but in terms of being a footballer there’s never really been that much certainty about the job anyway.

“With the pandemic and the effect it’s had on football, this has felt really strange, and I think that’s why it’s such a relief to be here with Carlisle United now.

“The summer for me went on a lot longer than I anticipated it and hoped it would, so it’s good that the manager has spoken to me and given me this chance.”

Bennett said he had trained with other clubs and also worked on his fitness on his own whilst waiting to get fixed up.

“It does start to get frustrating when all you really want is for that text or call to come through,” he said.

“It has been a lonely feeling, at times, and that’s why it’s just been amazing to have been here and training properly again this week.

“Tentative interest [from other clubs] isn’t real and how long do you wait until tentative becomes real? There are only so many times you can be put off, and the good thing about Chris is that he made it clear that the opportunity was here for me if we could make it fit.”

Bennett says he has a positive relationship with Beech and has been watching his progress from United from afar.

He has also played at right-back and in midfield in the past but said: “I think it’s important to try to nail down one position if you can, and I think my best position is probably as a central defender.

“Obviously I’m quite tall and I like to think I’m athletic. I’m quite calm and composed in my defending and I’ll work hard to help the team in any way I can.

“I’m here for a couple of months so it’s an opportunity to get my head down, get some game time and help the lads to push on from where they already are. I want to do as well as we can then we’ll see what happens in January.”

Bennett made 63 appearances in two campaigns at Peterborough having been one of 24 signings made by Steve Evans in his 11-month spell in charge at London Road.

*Carlisle United's Under-18s will host Blackburn Rovers in the third round of the FA Youth Cup if they can get past Bradford in next Thursday's second round tie at Brunton Park.

Blackburn - Blues academy manager Eric Kinder's former club - reached the semi-finals of the 2019/20 competition.