Keith Millen says he wants his Carlisle United players in good spirits as they bid to end their long wait for a league win tonight.

The struggling Blues will aim for a first League Two victory in 12 games when they host Harrogate Town tonight (Brunton Park, 7.45pm).

The need for United to get back to winning ways is increasingly pressing given they are now two points adrift in the relegation zone.

As they prepare to face the division’s seventh-placed side, Millen wants his side to be upbeat as they try to bounce back from Saturday’s loss at Exeter.

The Carlisle manager said: “I said to them [after the game] that I don’t want any sad faces on Monday.

“Be sad on the way home, but then you’ve got to move on. Draw a line under it and learn our lessons, and be positive going into [this] game.

“If we’d lost on Saturday and our heads had dropped, and we had no running in us, I’d be more concerned.

“The fact we kept going gives you a lot more positive thoughts.”

Millen is without Jon Mellish tonight as he starts a three-match ban following Saturday’s red card.

Captain Callum Guy is available to return after his one-match suspension.

United’s boss is continuing to check on the fitness of Joe Riley, with Jack Armer assessed after going off with a leg injury on Saturday.

Lewis Alessandra’s foot problem has added to Carlisle’s injury list and Millen admitted his senior numbers are currently depleted.

“My only concern is how many fit players we have,” he said.

“We have had some bad knocks in there so let’s see who we have available.”

Millen says United must keep evolving the style of play they showed in their best spells at Exeter.

“We went there with the same identity that we’d had for the previous three games – we didn’t really change, which I don’t want us to,” he said.

“I want us to keep getting better at what we’re doing.

“We will be the same, we’ll look at who’s fit, but I want to say, ‘this is us’ – we need to get better at it, and when we do we can be effective.”

United will tonight bid to avoid equalling a club record of five consecutive home league games without scoring.

They have drawn blanks against Forest Green, Tranmere, Oldham and Barrow ahead of tonight’s Brunton Park meeting with Simon Weaver’s Sulphurites.