Carlisle United boss Keith Curle admits his team will be out to bury the "hurt" of their play-off defeat when they return to Exeter this weekend.

The Blues are back at St James' Park on Saturday for the first time since their dramatic injury-time defeat last May.

That visit saw the Grecians' Jack Stacey break United's hearts with an injury-time winner at the end of the two-legged semi-final, which ended 6-5 to Exeter on aggregate.

With both teams back in the play-off hunt this season, Curle expects another keenly-fought contest against Paul Tisdale's side.

"The games against them [last season], I enjoyed them - I thought we could be very proud of how we represented ourselves in all those encounters," the Carlisle boss said.

"I don’t see it being any different now. It will be two football clubs trying to put on a spectacle, vying for the three points.

"Paul will know he'll be facing a team who have momentum, desire and still have that hurt of what happened last season.

"We gave a very good team two very good games in the play-offs, and a wonder strike from Jack Stacey settled the game when I thought the tide was swinging in our favour.

"I think it will be a good game of football, a game that both managers will be proud of. We both go into the game in good form."

Exeter have spent most of the campaign in the promotion picture, setting the early pace before dropping into the play-off places.

While Tisdale's men have won four of their last eight games, Carlisle's immediate form is more impressive, the Cumbrians having won four on the spin.

United will come up against a host of players who featured in the play-off epic, which came after a 3-2 Blues win on the final day of the regular season which booked their place in the top seven.

Curle believes Saturday will see a tight affair in Devon with plenty at stake.

"Will it be an open, expansive game? I don’t think it will be," he said.

"They know we're chasing them, they're above us, and we need to overtake them if we're gonna get to where we want to get.

"There's a hunger and a desire in us. We don’t fear Exeter or anybody we've got to play in the remaining games.

"I've got a lot of respect for Paul Tisdale and Exeter City as a football club. He's been in place 10-11 years and is a fundamental part of the club.

"You know you're gonna come against a club who have aspirations to be plying their trade in and around the top seven."

United's recent form has seen the gap to the play-off places close dramatically and Curle believes that will not have gone unnoticed by the teams currently occupying the key positions in the promotion race.

"Other teams above us may have games in hand but we've got to play those teams as well," he added.

"They might be sitting there thinking they have an advantage, but if they lose that game [against us], they can lose that advantage and that can change mentality.

"This stage of the season is massively about the mental side, the mental challenges that players and clubs will face. We're in a good place - the players are enjoying the environment, working hard, and the challenges."