SCOTT Dobie believes Carlisle United can still win League One – and the fit-again striker should know having pulled off a similar feat six years ago, writes STUART RAYNER.
The Cumbrians go into today’s game at play-off-chasing Leyton Orient 10 points behind Swansea with two games in hand. And with the leaders starting to wobble, Dobie believes it is a gap which can be overhauled.
Yesterday’s 1-1 draw at Southend United means Roberto Martinez’s side have won just one of their last five matches, and with second-placed Doncaster Rovers losing 2-1 at Yeovil, Dobie is starting to sense an opportunity.
The Scottish international was part of the West Bromwich Albion squad which successfully closed a similar gap to reach the Premier League in 2001-02.
“I was in a position a few years ago with West Brom when we were 10 points behind Wolves with about 10 games to go,” he recalled.
“Wolves then started flapping, they were losing games and we just kept winning and did enough to overtake them. That can happen. If you’re up there with all those points you can get a bit complacent or maybe start thinking about it too much.
“We’ve just been in and around it all season and people haven’t really been talking about Carlisle. Finally people are saying we’ve got a chance. The gap at the top certainly hasn’t been extended in the last few weeks. With all the games to come, nothing’s impossible.”
Dobie is expected to win an instant recall at Brisbane Road after a frustrating three-match absence with a virus which saw him lose 8lb.
“I’m not the biggest lad anyway so eight pounds is a lot to lose,” he said. “I’ve been doing a bit of extra weights and fitness work, which is something you need to do a bit more of as you get older anyway. I’ve shaken it off now and I’m there for selection.”
Jeff Smith and Paul Thirlwell both have ankle injuries, with the latter reckoned to be at least three weeks from a return. Joe Garner is a long-term absentee and Kevin Gall unavailable as he is in Canada on trial with MLS side Toronto FC. Avoiding defeat would take third-placed Carlisle into the automatic promotion places. The top three are all at home on Easter Monday. While the Cumbrians are entertaining Northampton Town, Swansea and Doncaster face Bournemouth and Oldham Athletic respectively.
Hartlepool United’s game at Crewe Alexandra is under threat from snow. But while that would be a disappointment for the fans, it could help James Brown and Sam Collins.
Temperatures last night were expected to hover between 0 and 1C at Gresty Road, with a high of 3C this afternoon and snow forecast for the morning. Crewe’s main stand casts a shadow over half the pitch during the day. Pool fans would therefore be well advised to check the match is going ahead before travelling, though Crewe’s game against Carlisle earlier this season was not called off until about an hour before the scheduled 3pm kick-off.
Defender Jamie McCunnie is suspended, which could mean a recall for Ben Clark even if Collins is declared fit.
The centre-back will have a fitness test on his calf injury and – like Brown, who made his return from injury with the reserves in midweek – would benefit from an extra 48 hours’ rest.
Pool entertain Yeovil on Monday. Brown, 21, has been out for six weeks with a knee injury but played the full game for the reserves, scoring in a 3-3 draw. Godwin Antwi or Anthony Sweeney could be asked to fill in at right-back.