Carlisle United No2 Gavin Skelton admitted the Blues’ reserve thrashing at Hartlepool was a big “wake-up call”.

None of United’s fringe players made their case to force their way into Steven Pressley’s first-team as they lost 4-0 in the north east.

It was an afternoon that said little about Carlisle’s squad depth as Nicke Kabamba hit a first-half hat-trick and Gavin Holohan added a fourth after the break for Pools

United’s side included several pros including Elias Sorensen, Ryan Loft, Canice Carroll, Jon Mellish and Aaron Hayden.

Manager Pressley watched most of the game from the stand at Victoria Park, occasionally heading to the dugout as he assessed certain members of his squad ahead of Saturday’s trip to Stevenage.

His assistant Skelton, who took the side along with coach Nathan Rooney and academy manager Eric Kinder, said: “It’s a wake-up call for all the lads that played.

“This is real football. Training is good, as is getting a few minutes here and there, but this is tough.

“It’s about mentality. That’s a big part of being a footballer.

“A lot of people have similar ability but it’s the ones with strong mentality who can come here, perform and deal with the disappointment of not playing on Saturday.

“The ones that are honest with themselves are the ones who’ll go and have careers.”

United’s line-up also included keeper Louis Gray, defender Jarrad Branthwaite, midfielder Taylor Charters and striker Keighran Kerr, as well as youth-team players Charlie Barnes and Charlie Birch.

The Blues created very few chances with loanees Sorensen and Carroll having their best opportunities against a home side coached by ex-United midfielder Antony Sweeney.

Skelton added: “Most of our team were 21 and under against a strong Hartlepool team.

“Sometimes you need things like this just to know where you are. It’s nice in pre-season when you are doing great, but this is part of your development and it’s important.

“It’s tough, you get knocks and you’ve got to come again.

“I’m not downbeat. It was a frustrating afternoon but it will be a massive learning curve for the next one.

“It’s important that some players got 90 minutes in their legs. And fair play to Hartlepool, they were excellent especially in the first half.

“We appreciate the game and it’s a good relationship for the future. When we’re not in a reserve league, it’s important the players keep getting 90 minutes.”

Skelton said it was now essential the players responded in the right way.

He added: “The group haven’t really played together so you haven’t got that cohesion and relationships, and we got caught on the hop for 10 minutes.

“But that’s no excuse. They’ve all played in different formations before. We just weren’t at it.

“They’ll be disappointed individually and with how the game’s gone. We’ll have to pick them up.

“You have to get your teeth into it. Be disappointed, but tomorrow’s a new day and it’s about being at it in training and knowing you’ll do better.”