Graham Kavanagh is delighted that his players are hurting after the new Carlisle manager’s unbeaten start came to a halt against Oldham.
Kavanagh’s five-match run was ended by the Latics in a game in which the Cumbrians failed to match the standards they have set since the departure of Greg Abbott in September.
They have an instant chance to redeem themselves tonight, but they face a big challenge at MK Dons, who have won four of their six home games in an unbeaten start at Stadium: MK.
Kavanagh knows that it will be tough but was pleased with the reaction of his players, who collectively admitted that they had not done enough to carve out a win against the Latics.
“We were all disappointed with Saturday because we didn’t get anywhere near the standards we have set ourselves,” he said.
“The lads know they didn’t have that energy and honesty in their play and we have challenged them to bring that back. I told them that one defeat in six is a fantastic return and we have to make sure we start another run on Tuesday night.
“The good thing is that the players are all very disappointed. They know they can play better and they are determined to get that feeling back again.
“We know that won’t be easy because MK Dons are a very good side and particularly at home. They haven’t lost there at home this season, so they’ll be confident and they’ll try to bring the game to us.
“It’s up to us to be stronger because winning games doesn’t come easy. We need to earn our luck and win our battles all over the pitch. We were doing that for the five games previous and we have to demand it from each other that we get back to doing it again.”
The Dons recently celebrated a decade of league football in Milton Keynes and have developed a reputation as one of the third tier’s most consistently impressive sides.
They are flirting with the play-offs again this season and particularly on their own patch they are a team to be treated with respect.
But Kavanagh suspects their opponents will feel exactly the same about Carlisle. “MK Dons have threats all over the pitch,” he said.
“They’ll be there or thereabouts this season but, if we do things right, we should be causing them a few problems as well.”
Carlisle will consider a recall for striker Lee Miller after he made a smart return to action at Oldham. He has been out for a month with a calf injury, but played the last 16 minutes at Boundary Park.
“We have no new injury worries after the weekend. Obviously Bez (James Berrett) picked up his fifth yellow card on Saturday so he’ll be missing. That’s a chance for somebody else to come in and stake their claim.
“Lee Miller got his 20 minutes at the weekend and that will have done him the world of good. We’ll look at how he goes over the next couple of days, along with the rest of the squad, and we’ll make our decisions from there.”