Carlisle United vice-captain Aaron Hayden insists the Blues have not given up on reviving their promotion challenge and said: We’re still here and we’re still fighting.

After stopping the rot against Crawley in midweek, United will tomorrow aim to build on that victory against struggling Southend (Roots Hall, 1pm).

United are six points outside the play-off places and need to go on a run of good results to give themselves a chance after their recent slide.

Defender Hayden admitted Tuesday’s 2-0 win was crucial and, ahead of their remaining 10 games, pledged that the Blues will battle to the very end.

“It was important – we’ve reminded people we’re still here and still fighting,” the centre-half said.

“We aren’t down and out, we’re still scrapping and looking up the table.

“There’s still 30 points to play for and we want to try and get back up to where we were.”

Hayden admits United’s recent struggles have been hugely frustrating, but the ex-Wolves man also said the way players fight through hard times is revealing of character.

“When Omari [Patrick]’s goal went in to make it 2-0 there was a lot of relief, and it felt like our hard work was paying off,” Hayden said.

“It’s our job to come out and do that every week. There’s no excuses, that’s what we get paid to do. We have to come out and represent the people of Carlisle and ourselves.

“In every game I will, and I’ll make sure the boys will, be fighting and giving everything to try and get us wins.

“When you’re on a bad run it has to be the time where you show your strength and flex your muscles. You can’t really show how strong you are when everything is going well, but when times get tough we have to stick together and show what we’re made of as a team.

“The season is still there for us to go and do something, believe it or not.”

United’s first game at Roots Hall since 2015 will see the Cumbrians bid to record back-to-back wins for the first time since January.

They will also aim to build on a first clean sheet in 14 outings.

In an honest assessment, Hayden, who recently forced his way back into the side after a brief spell on the bench, admitted United have conceded too many goals recently, and he has not always been at his best of late.

He added: “Personally it’s been very frustrating and as a team it’s been very frustrating to have not been getting the clean sheets. I think frustrating is the main word I would use to sum up the last few weeks.

“We’ve been coming off the pitch talking about goals we should have scored or wins we should have had instead of actually getting them.

“But it’s all about going forward now. The only thing we can do now is go and win at Southend by bringing the positive vibes, momentum and energy that we had on Tuesday into that game on Saturday.

“As much as the run has been bad and there’s been doom and gloom, we’ve just got to focus on the next game which is Southend and make sure we do the right things again.

“I think [against Crawley] I got back to the standards I set for myself. Being really critical of myself, I feel like I haven’t been at those standards [recently].

“I felt really comfortable out there on Tuesday and I’m just really happy we got the win.”

Hayden, who captained the side in midweek with Nick Anderton left on the bench, says there has been plenty of soul-searching among the players in recent weeks as Carlisle suffered a number of frustrating results.

The 24-year-old, though, said the unity of the squad cannot be in any doubt.

“There have been a few times in the last couple of months where we’ve gone into the dressing room and asked each other what has happened,” he said. “It was great to go into the dressing room [on Tuesday] and high-five each other and not be thinking about the what ifs.

“I think this run has brought us closer as a group because you find out more about what people are about. We’re still a tight group of lads and we just want to push on together now.”

Hayden and the Blues are now targeting their first away win since early January.

The defender added: “It’s a long trip but we’ll be going down there with the same attitude and energy we’ve shown [against Crawley] to hopefully get another three points.

“Our away form needs to be better, the last time we won away was Walsall right at the start of the year so we need to get back to winning ways on the road.

“Everyone knows what has gone on [with Covid and a string of winter postponements] and the situation we’ve been in, but it’s no excuse. We’re here now, all we can affect is the future and we’ll be looking to get the three points on Saturday.”