Paul Simpson feels the cluster of games ahead will test Carlisle United’s mettle as they bid to extend their impressive unbeaten run.

The Blues have gone nine games without defeat in the league for the first time in six years.

And while Simpson says praise can be shared around the club for that progress, they need to be ready for some serious tests in a bid to continue it.

They face a string of games in league and cup and the Blues boss said: “Now we’ve just got to keep it going because, while records are there to be broken, from our point of view they’re there to be made even better, and we have an opportunity to do that.

“We have an opportunity in a local derby [at Barrow in the Papa John’s Trophy tonight] which I hope we do properly, then an opportunity at home against one of the early season pacesetters in Leyton Orient.

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“I include Saturday’s game against Doncaster, who I think could go on to be a good side, then Barrow as a local derby, Orient at home, Stockport away, Tranmere away – five games which give us a real indication of where we really are and deserve to be.

“At that point if we’re still in a good position, we’ll deserve to be there because we’re coming up against some good sides.”

Carlisle will now face Tranmere twice in that spell after drawing the Wirral outfit at home in the FA Cup first round.

Not since Keith Curle’s side started 2016/17 with 15 unbeaten games have the Blues enjoyed such a long run without defeat.

United’s current fortunes are a marked contrast to their struggles before Simpson returned to the club less than eight months ago.

“It’s brilliant. Brilliant for everybody,” he said of the improvement.

“For a start it’s brilliant for the directors for making a decision to change the manager and bring me back in, when I know there was a lot of negative stuff about me when I left donkey’s years ago [for Preton in 2006].

“Credit to the recruitment that’s gone on in the summer. And credit to the directors again for finding that little bit more money to get that extra player in to give us a bit more depth in the squad.”

Carlisle have maintained and strengthened their form in spite of a glut of injuries to key players.

Simpson said that underlines the calibre of players and characters throughout the squad.

“I don’t think it’s despite [the injuries], I think it’s credit to the ones who are coming in, they’re all doing their job,” he said.

“They’re doing really well, and when we start getting everybody fit it will give me some massive headaches, because there’s going to be a group of players who won’t even make the 18, but that’s a great challenge to have.

“Then we just keep going, because we know we’re going to get bumps in the road, but if they all stick together and show the togetherness that they are showing, we won’t go far wrong.”