Carlisle United manager Graham Kavanagh has warned his players of the consequences of relegation as they battle to maintain League One status.
Walsall are the visitors to Brunton Park this afternoon, the 10th-placed side looking to take advantage of a Carlisle team thumped 6-1 at Preston North End on Saturday.
Kavanagh said: “I am looking for a reaction from last weekend but, even more than that, the players are looking for a reaction.
“They feel they have let themselves and the fans down and they really want to put it right.
“It is up to them to step across that white line and produce the goods.”
Walsall were 2-0 winners when the two teams met in December, Carlisle’s manager determined to raise standards from that day as they languish in the fourth and final relegation spot, tied on points with Notts County but with a game still in hand.
Kavanagh added: “This game will be another test for us.
“I have been to a lot of games over the last few weeks and, wherever I have been, Walsall manager Dean Smith has been there as well.
“He is getting to as many games as we are, and that tells me they are very much fighting to finish off the remaining part of the season properly.
“I don’t think they will be coasting, and I am sure we will have to fight for every single thing we get.
“They beat us down there convincingly and that wasn’t a performance I was particularly pleased with.
“We are at home and we have played our better football here at Brunton Park.
“I am hoping we can live up to the level of expectancy which the fans will come here with and that the players will deliver a performance for them.”
Making no attempt to shy away from their league position or the consequences of ending the season in the danger zone, the former Irish international said: “We are in a difficult situation, but we have to meet it head on and make sure we don’t run away from it.
“We need warriors and people who are going to fight for the cause and, in the end, you have to earn your luck with the way you perform.
“There has to be a never-say-die attitude, similar to what we had when I first took over, because we will only get through this with hard work and by sticking together. I have explained to the players relegation is the last thing they want on their CV.
“We also have some who are out of contract, so it does have a huge impact on everything you want to do going forward.”
Banking on home support to help lift them out of trouble, the manager added: “It goes without saying it is vitally important for the fans to stay behind us. They have been magnificent with me since I took over and we need to do our bit to get them believing in the future of the club.
“I want to be challenging in this league and at the top end of the table rather than how it is at the moment.”
Not complicating matters in the tactical department during the build-up, Kavanagh explained: “It is a game which will be about us getting back to basics. I want to see the players thinking about what they’re doing when they have the ball. It is then about how difficult we are to break down when we do not have it. If we start to do things as individuals, as we did last weekend, then we’ll be picked off.
“Training has been very good this week and I’m sure we’ll give Walsall a good game. When we play well we look like a good team, but we just haven’t done that anywhere near consistently enough.
“That’s why we’re in the position we’re in.
“The lads are capable, as they’ve shown us, but we’ve also had occasions where the wheels have come off and we’ve looked ragged and disjointed.
“We need to get rid of that aspect of our play.”