MARK Beck was expecting to be handed a mop and bucket yesterday morning, but hoping instead to be told he will be back in Carlisle United’s first team.
The 18-year-old striker made his Carlisle debut in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at home to Charlton Athletic.
Having got his first taste of the Football League at the weekend, he is hoping for another at Stevenage this evening.
“I’d love to get another chance before the end of the season,” he said after coming on as an 81st-minute substitute at Brunton Park. “Until I’m told otherwise, I’ll turn up at 8.30am ready to do the clean-up jobs and training.”
Sunderland-born Beck was called back from a spell of work experience at Conference North side Workington Town. His “dream” debut came at very short notice.
“I only found out I would be involved in the (Charlton) game on Friday,” he told the club’s official website. “I was training with the first team while the youth team were playing at Shrewsbury and afterwards I was doing some jobs when the gaffer called me in and told me I would be on the bench against Charlton.
“When the gaffer told me I was going to be coming on he said just to go out there, enjoy myself and do what I had been doing well in training over the past week.”
Beck should be involved tonight, even with the welcome news that forward Jordan Cook has declared himself fit after coming off at the weekend.
The on-loan Sunderland man was substituted with a groin problem against the Addicks. But Cook was quick to point out it was nothing serious.
“I came off due to fatigue and tight groins! Nothing too serious at all just lack of game time recently I think,” he tweeted after the match.
Manager Greg Abbott is already without Lee Miller for the rest of the season. The former Middlesbrough frontman has a groin injury.
But Paddy Madden is the only other fit striker. “I don’t think I have any choice now to keep Mark around the team, and he is there if we need a goal and some height at the end of games,” Abbott said.
“I don’t think he’s ready to start yet but options are few and far between at the moment, and he did all right.
“It’s a no-lose gamble. He’s a big boy, decent in the air and Saturday is an experience he will remember.
“He was due to be going to Corby Town with Workington before we pulled him back. From facing Corby Town to the League One champions is a bit of a dream for him, I would think.” Bradley Wright-Phillips’ goal ended Carlisle’s 17-match unbeaten home run at the weekend and saw them drop out of the top six.
Tonight, though, is their game in hand over sixth-placed Notts County. Win it and they will be back in the box seat with just three games remaining.
Three points behind Carlisle, Stevenage are still hoping to reach this season’s play-offs, the dates of which were announced yesterday.
They go into the game on the back of Saturday’s 6-0 win at Yeovil.
Abbott is expecting he will have to lift morale in the away dressing room this evening after their impressive Brunton Park run came to an end against a team who sealed their place in next season’s Championship with victory.
“The players will need picking up because they have given their absolute best and got nothing to show for it,” he said.
“We came up just short against a very powerful team. Now we have to dust ourselves down and go again to try and keep this dream alive.”
Carlisle and Hartlepool United have been shortlisted for the League One groundsman of the year. Rochdale have also been nominated for the award, which Carlisle’s David Mitchell won last year.