Keith Millen is demanding a return to Carlisle United’s best standards tonight in their clash with Hartlepool United.

The Blues manager admits his side were well short of their best in the 1-1 draw with Crawley Town on Saturday.

And he wants to see his players back on their game this evening against Graeme Lee’s Pools at Brunton Park.

“I’m hoping we get back to our best, certainly in possession,” the United boss said.

“There was a frustration on Saturday, during the game and after.

“The lads knew that [yesterday] morning. We didn’t really go over it in any detail, it was just one of those days, let’s move on, learn from it and put it right [tonight].”

United could overtake Pools in the table with victory tonight, while a win could also see them move ten points clear of the relegation zone.

They take on 17th-placed visitors who boast a strong home record but have only taken four points from 12 away games.

The Monkey Hangers have also been on an impressive FA Cup run which sees a fourth round tie against Millen’s old club Crystal Palace next month.

Millen said: “Unless you’re in the club you don’t know whether the cup run’s having an impact or not, positive or negative.

“They’re a good footballing side, they try to play, they’re a dangerous team and they’ve been close in the games recently that they’ve had.

“I saw the Bristol Rovers game [a 2-0 defeat for Pools on Saturday] and there wasn’t much in that game. It was an unfortunate sending off at the end [for Jamie Sterry].

“It’s going to be a game that we’re looking forward to. We’ve done our homework on them as we do always.”

Pools are one of United’s closest geographical rivals in League Two and Millen hopes that will add a little extra edge tonight.

“I hope so,” he said. “I love atmospheres; I don’t care what the reason is, whether it’s a local derby, there’s a load of away fans here that get our fans going…it can only add to the atmosphere.

“I love a big noisy atmosphere. Our fans were very supportive on Saturday. I saw the Crawley assistant manager’s interview after our game and he mentioned the hostile atmosphere coming to Carlisle.

“That’s great, if that’s how the opposition see it. I don’t want opposition coming here enjoying themselves on and off the pitch. If we can create that atmosphere, and perform well, it’s a tough place to come.”

News and Star: Gary Liddle (photo: PA)Gary Liddle (photo: PA)

Hartlepool, who could include former Blues such as Gary Liddle and Mark Cullen, are winless in four in the league and have just one victory to their name on the road.

Millen, though, insists he is disregarding Pools’ paltry away record.

“When I look at the opposition I want to see their tactics and how they play,” he said. “I don’t really look at where they are in the league or their current form.

“They’re an attacking, possession team. They want to try and play and they’ve got an identity to what they’re doing.

“They like to pass the ball, so we’ve got to make sure they don’t enjoy coming here and playing on our big pitch. We’ve got to make sure we make it uncomfortable for them.

“We’ve got to make sure we stay solid and learn lessons from Saturday, where I thought we were too open as a team.

“We haven’t really been like that, so I want to see us a lot closer and stronger as a unit. If we can be that then we’re a hard team to break down.

“I want us to get back to being at our best. I think if we are then we’re a very difficult team to play against at home.”