Steven Pressley expects Harry McKirdy will be out to prove another of his former clubs wrong this afternoon.

The Carlisle United attacker faces Newport (Rodney Parade, 3pm), where he had a loan spell from Aston Villa last season.

McKirdy was restricted to just two starts and 11 sub appearances for the Exiles in his half-season loan.

He has since emerged as a key man for the Cumbrians with four goals and six assists since his summer move.

McKirdy shot down one of his other former loan sides in Stevenage last month and Pressley said: “I’m sure, going back there [Newport] to a place where he really didn’t play and pretty much found himself on the bench every week, he’ll be determined to prove them wrong.”

United’s manager says he has spoken to McKirdy this week about his role in the side. He has been impressed with his goals and assists but believes the 22-year-old can offer more.

Pressley said: “His return of four goals and six assists is terrific for him.

“He is improving in other aspects. I spoke to him [on Thursday] at length about a couple of things defensively.

“Because I don’t think – and I don’t put it down to Harry – but I don’t think we’ve been as aggressive in our pressing football as I’d like.

“Certain aspects we need to do better to become better again, because we rehearse it all the time on the training field.

“There are still aspects I’m wanting to push him on and develop him in, but certainly in terms of his goals and assists return we’re very satisfied with that.”

Pressley’s main concern ahead of the game was Nathan Thomas, with Hallam Hope among the contenders to come into the side if illness costs Thomas his place.

Jack Bridge is available after suspension but Pressley said Mo Sagaf’s display in midfield against Oldham last weekend has given him a selection dilemma.

United are today hoping to improve on a poor record at Rodney Parade which has seen them take just one point in five visits.

Mike Flynn’s sixth-placed side are unbeaten at home, but victory for Carlisle could take the Cumbrians into the top half.

The trip to South Wales comes after Pressley gave his squad and football staff several days off at the start of the week.

He hopes to reap the benefits of that approach, which he will repeat at intervals of about six weeks.

He said: “They’ve come [back] in and are refreshed and in really good spirits.

“It’s not just the players – the important thing as well is that for my staff and everybody around the club we have this break from it.

“It allows us to recharge the batteries, refocus and go again.

“It’s an important part of what we do. I think the players really enjoy this aspect. They know how hard they work in the six-seven weeks, but also have the incentive to work that hard, because they’ll then get the three-four days off.

“I hope it has the desired effect. If it doesn’t everybody will be saying it's wrong but in my eyes it’s the right way to work [and something] I’ll continue to do.”