Ben Amos will make his Carlisle United debut at home to Crawley Town today as Graham Kavanagh looks for a positive reaction to a difficult week.
Twice the Cumbrians have suffered disappointment in the cups at the hands of lower-league opposition.
They will at least get a second chance in the FA Cup on Tuesday after non-league Boreham Wood took them to a first-round replay. But Fleetwood Town knocked them out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
That was only the half of it, with Kavanagh losing goalkeeper Mark Gillespie for up to two months through injury, and forced to field some awkward questions after taking former Manchester City defender Courtney Meppel-Walter on trial days after he was released from prison for causing death by dangerous driving.
The signing of Manchester United youngster Amos on a one-month loan has at least made light of Gillespie’s absence. Kavanagh hopes the attitude of his players puts right their poor recent form.
“What happened on Wednesday night was disappointing, but we had a good reaction in training yesterday and hopefully we can maximise that today and get a good result,” said Kavanagh, who after starting his managerial career with three straight wins now has one from the following nine games.
“We had a meeting with the players after Wednesday and we had a really good response. I had a chat with six of the senior players on Friday to let them air anything they wanted but it was all very positive. It was important they understood where I was coming from because they play a key factor in how the dressing room is run and what is expected of it.”
Amos is the latest in a series of Kavanagh signings, following Pascal Chimbonda, Max Ehmer and Prince Buaben. The Irishman is grateful for the support, but realises he may have to trim his squad in January.
“The board and John (Nixon, the managing director) have been absolutely outstanding. They know I want to put my own stamp on it.
“Ben was based on Mark getting injured but we had to act quickly and we did. As Man United have done in the past they’ve helped us out again.
“He won’t be able to play Tuesday (at home to Boreham Wood, having not been eligible for the first game), so Greg (Fleming) will play then.”
It remains to be seen how many more new faces the former Sunderland and Middlesbrough midfielder can bring in.
“I don’t really know,” he replied. “The squad is getting overloaded and we’re going to have to move one or two on.
“If this is the group I end up working with until the end of the season, great, but I do think we need a bit more quality. Whether’s there’s any money to do that I don’t know.
“It makes Tuesday more important because if we can have a good cup run it eases the situation slightly.” Carlisle had hoped former Sunderland right-back Chimbonda would be fit to return after missing both cup ties with a groin strain.
“I thought so, but the answer is no,” said a disappointed Kavanagh. “He trained yesterday morning but it’s still tight.
“We’ll go with what we have and give a good account of ourselves.”
Amos is the Red Devils’ third-choice goalkeeper and has made seven first-team appearances, including one Premier League start. He has also had loan spells at Peterborough United, Oldham Athletic and Hull City.
Matty Robson is doubtful with an ankle injury, but Liam Noble returns from suspension.