Mark Birch hopes Carlisle United’s under-18s can give the club a lift tonight by progressing in the FA Youth Cup.

The young Blues host Oldham under the lights at Brunton Park this evening (kick-off 7pm) in a first round tie.

It sees United’s aspiring young players out to deliver a positive result at a time their senior colleagues are struggling for wins.

Coach Birch says the club’s teenagers can help lift the mood at Brunton Park if they produce the goods in the prestigious youth competition.

“All successful clubs are built on the atmosphere, the togetherness, the camaraderie between every department, not just first team and youth team,” Birch said.

“That togetherness has to be throughout a club.

“If we can bring that little bit of excitement and atmosphere by the youth team lads winning a game of football, that’s got to help.

“You’re looking for little snippets of things in the club to lift spirits a bit. If the youth team can do their little bit tonight and boost the atmosphere in and around the place, so be it.”

Birch’s side tonight is likely to include young players who have been around the first-team squad this summer such as defenders Max Kilsby and Jack Ellis.

The coach hopes highly-rated Sam Fishburn can shake off a knock to lead United’s attack against Selim Benachour’s visitors.

And Birch also has a tough decision to make in goal between the trio of Gabe Breeze, Scott Simons and Lewis Boyd.

On the latter decision, he said: “We’ll speak to the first team, just to see what they want and are looking at for the rest of the week, and then we’ve got a decision to make on who plays on the night.

“Whoever plays out of the three of them, it basically comes down to it being their turn, and later on in the competition, if we progress, then maybe somebody else will get their turn as well.

“We could pick any of them and it wouldn’t make us any better or worse, because they’re fantastic young keepers, and the ones who don’t play I’m sure will get opportunities at some stage through the season or in their career.”

Fishburn, who made his first-team debut last week, was not involved in either the senior or under-18 squads at the weekend.

Birch said the striker’s availability would be assessed in the build-up.

“The big picture for Sam is he’s been in and around the first team, and if it hinders him going forward to the first team if he has got any feeling of any kind of knock still, and we think that’ll be detrimental to the first team’s selection by playing him [tonight], then he won’t play.

“If he’s fully fit he has every chance of being involved.”

Birch hopes the likes of Ellis and Kilsby can help provide a calming influence tonight.

“It’s good they can pass on that experience, but at the same time they have to play their own game like everybody else,” he said.

“Hopefully they’ll be calm in their approach to the changing rooms, the way they are with people, and are calm heads when first years or other lads who’ve not had the opportunity they’ve had are getting a little bit giddy about a situation.

“They’ll turn round and see some mature, older heads who are nice and composed in what they’re doing.”

Tonight’s tie sees Birch and Eric Kinder back in the youth team dugout having been helping caretaker manager Gavin Skelton with first-team affairs over the last two weeks.

The coach said United’s youngsters must handle the Brunton Park occasion to give themselves the best chance of going through.

“We can sit here and say to them, ‘You’re walking onto just another pitch’, but it’s not that: it’s walking onto the first team pitch where they’re normally sitting in the stands watching the game.

“It’s their opportunity this time. You’ve got the floodlights on and they’ve all been waiting a long time. We can play it down but they’ll still have that little bit of nerves.

“The team that can control it best will probably be the team that comes out on top.”

United’s youth side come into the game in good form having won their last four games.

That run included a 3-0 victory over Tranmere on Saturday where Mason Hardy (two) and Nic Bollado got the goals.

Birch added: “We’re on a good run of form which is credit to the lads so they’ll go into the game feeling confident.

“We’ve based everything we do on work-rate and making the game as difficult for the opposition as we can. We try to dominate with and without the ball.

“They will feel different when they walk out ahead of the game which is expected, but they’ve got to manage that.

“They were in yesterday morning all excited, wanting to know what we’re doing, what’s happening, whether they’ve got tickets so their family can come along.

“We want that excitement, want them to have that feeling this is a big occasion, because they have to understand how to control it.

“If they didn’t have that feeling we’d be worried a little bit.”

On tonight’s opponents from Boundary Park, Birch added: “We know little bits about them, we’ve watched videos of them and spoken to people who have played against them recently, but at this level, you don’t know what you’ll get.

“I think there were a few youth team players in their first team squad on Saturday so we don’t know what team they’ll put out.

“All we’ll do is concentrate on ourselves and making sure we play the best game we can then see what the game brings.”

Entry tonight is £3 for over-18s and £1 for under-18s, with tickets available from 6pm from the west side ticket office.