Carlisle United boss Paul Simpson reckons opening-day opponents Fleetwood Town will show the Blues the League One standard straight away.

The Cumbrians face Scott Brown’s side in their first third-tier game for nine years.

It sees a clash with a team that finished 13th in League One last season.

Simpson says it is an immediate benchmark for his newly-promoted side.

“I think it will be a tough challenge to start with,” Carlisle’s manager said.

“They’re a team that are used to being in League One now, they’ve had a good few seasons there.

“They’re a footballing team, they want to play out from the back, and they’ve also got a bit of fire in their bellies, a bit of bite about them which you’d expect from their manager.

“They’ve got some players who can be a real threat. It’s going to be a tough challenge but that’s what we’re going to get every week in League One.

“And we’ve got to be ready to stand up to that challenge and try and be better.”

On the eve of the new season Simpson admitted that staying in the division has to be Carlisle’s initial target.

He said getting towards the 50-point mark as soon as possible will be a crucial milestone.

News and Star: Simpson says Fleetwood, who finished 13th in League One last season, are a good benchmark for his newly-promoted sideSimpson says Fleetwood, who finished 13th in League One last season, are a good benchmark for his newly-promoted side (Image: PA)

This weekend’s curtain-raiser provides an immediate marker as they set about that quest, and Simpson added: “We all want to be successful and try and achieve something but if somebody offers me mid-table [like Fleetwood last season] at the moment I’ll snap their hands off because it means we’ve been building and we’re better.

“That’s not me being pessimistic in any way. That’s me being real.

“I want to make sure we stay in the league this season, because that’s the best way to keep this club moving forward.

“There’s a new Sky TV deal coming out next season and there’s a big jump in finances, and we need to be bringing that sort of money into our club to help keep us moving forward.

“We’ve got to do everything we possibly can to make sure we’re in it.”

Fleetwood, who have never faced Carlisle in the league despite a number of cup encounters, have established themselves in the third tier after their climb from non-league.

They have signed players such as Danny Mayor and Ryan Broom this summer, while Celtic legend Brown signed a new two-year deal at the helm.

They also added young ex-Carlisle striker Sam Fishburn to their development squad along with Maleace Asamoah, son of former Blues favourite Derek.

But there has been off-field controversy connected to the club as owner Andy Pilley – the man who bankrolled their rise up the pyramid – was jailed for 13 years for fraud.

On a footballing level, Simpson said the Cod Army’s position is a guide for Carlisle and said: “I think it’s fair to say, without me being disrespectful, we’ve got a bit more history than Fleetwood Town have in terms of the years gone by and also with our fanbase.

“But they are a benchmark. It shows what can actually be achieved, if you’ve got the right sort of backing.

“We’ve got to hope we can have a good few years to keep building and who knows where it can take us.”