Paul Simpson says Carlisle United must fight to the bitter end as relegation looms closer this weekend.

The Blues head to Northampton Town (Sixfields Stadium, 3pm) knowing defeat would seal their demise back to League Two.

Even a draw or win might not be enough if other results go against Carlisle, towards the end of a season of struggle in the third tier.

But United’s manager says that, whatever the circumstances, his team must give all they have for the cause.

“We have to do that,” said Simpson.

“There’s certainly not going to be any let-up in terms of the staff in how we prepare for the games.

“We expect the players to do exactly the same, because as a professional footballer you go out to try and win a game.

“We have to go out and try and win every game we possibly can, starting with Northampton, making sure we go and give as professional a showing of ourselves as we possibly can.”

Plenty of eyes will be on Simpson’s squad today following news of disciplinary measures in the wake of a night out involving some players less than 48 hours before Monday’s defeat to Lincoln City.

United’s manager has so far not given any indication on whether the players involved would be considered for selection this afternoon.

Carlisle start the day 13 points from safety with five games to go, meaning a defeat to the 11th-placed Cobblers would confirm the drop.

News and Star: Simpson wants United to hit the same levels they reached at Peterborough on Good FridaySimpson wants United to hit the same levels they reached at Peterborough on Good Friday (Image: Richard Parkes)

A draw would only keep them clinging on if fifth-bottom Burton Albion lose to Oxford United – and even then United’s inferior goal difference would all but seal their fate. Draws for both Burton and Carlisle would confirm the drop.

Victory for Simpson’s side would delay relegation mathematically if Burton lose or draw, but a Brewers win would consign United to League Two whatever the Cumbrians do today.

United’s manager stressed that his side must continue to give everything for club and fans.

“We’ve been so pleased with the support we’ve received this season, it’s been really powerful,” said Simpson.

“I think we should go out and put on a performance for everyone who chooses to come and follow us in these last five games.

“And as a professional you have a duty to go and perform to your maximum, every opportunity you get.”

Northampton have enjoyed a solid season after last season’s promotion, the Cobblers sitting 11th with four games to go.

That is despite making relatively few changes to the team that took them up from League Two.

“It’s very, very similar,” said Simpson. “They took [Kieron] Bowie back on loan, brought [Tyreece] Simpson in, but apart from that I don’t think there are many other changes to it.

“Yes, they’ve adapted. The truth is, the league table showed they were better than us last season, they made slight little adjustments to it, and it looks to me they’ve made slight adjustment to the way they’re playing.

“They’re less risky, and I don’t think they’ve played as much football as they did last season, but they’re an effective side with good individuals and they’ve taken to League One much better than we have.

“We know it’s going to be a tough game, but we went to Peterborough [on Good Friday] knowing it was going to be a tough test and we showed a better level, and we have to try and gets as close to that level as we can this weekend.

“It’s the next one for us and we have to try and do ourselves justice.”