Mo Sagaf was a “shining light” for Carlisle United against Exeter and has shown he could belong at this level.

That was the verdict of manager Steven Pressley, who picked out Sagaf as a rare bright spot in the Blues’ dire defeat.

The Somalia-born player may have earned a second start at Stevenage next Saturday after his capable performance in Saturday’s 3-1 loss.

While Pressley accused his players of not working hard enough against the Grecians, he spared Sagaf from criticism.

The summer signing started on the left of a front three before spending the second half in his favoured central midfield position. Pressley said: “He’s a development player, but I think he’s proved that he’s really warming to the task.

“I thought he was one of the few that did himself justice [on Saturday].

“To be fair to Mo, he was one of the shining lights.

“He did tire and looked very fatigued in the last 20 minutes, but I thought he was at the heart of most of our good stuff.

“I think there is still a lot more to come from him, because physically he still isn’t at our levels.”

The Exeter game saw 21-year-old Sagaf make his full debut after a successful summer trial with the Blues.

A central role at Stevenage could be on offer if Pressley changes things in search of improvement after Saturday’s poor display.

Mike Jones, Jack Bridge and Canice Carroll were the midfield three against Exeter but Carroll was hooked at the break.

Pressley said this week’s training will be largely focused on United’s own attributes rather than those of Stevenage.

He said: “We work again, we refocus, and we work hard on trying to improve.

“I think a big part of the week will be concentrating on our own performance and how we can improve.

“We’ll analyse Stevenage, but based on [Saturday] it’s important we get back to doing what we’re good at.

“We have to get better at doing what we were doing in the initial parts of the season. We have to have more courage, if the game goes away from us a little bit, to keep playing.

“Our best stuff always comes from us passing the ball, and when we get away from that, we don’t look as effective a team.”

Pressley will give his fringe players another opportunity to impress in a reserve friendly at Hartlepool today (kick-off 1.30pm). The likes of Louis Gray, Aaron Hayden, Jarrad Branthwaite and Jon Mellish are likely to feature.

“There are certain players who still need game time, so we’ll assess that and then decide who will participate,” Pressley said.