Graham Kavanagh is expecting a reaction to his first back-to-back defeats as Carlisle United manager, and believes there are few better opponents to provoke it than Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Just over two years ago the Black Country side were playing Premier League football. The likes of Kevin Doyle, George Elokobi, Jamie O’Hara and Richard Stearman remain.
So while a run of six wins and two draws in their past eight games – taking them second in the table – marks Wolves out as difficult opponents this evening, Kavanagh expects motivating his players for the Brunton Park game to be a doddle.
“They’ve got a huge budget with the parachute payment they still receive and the attendances they get,” he said. “It means they’ve been able to keep some players on Premier League wages. We can’t match that but what we do have is a very good togetherness and unity amongst the group.
“We’ve done well amongst the bigger clubs in the league – clubs like Leeds, Sheffield United, Southampton and Huddersfield.
“We’ve lost the last few games, which is not what we would have wanted. The reaction will come because it’s Wolves. You know they’re going to cause us problems in terms of the way they play, the confidence levels from their results and the quality they have, but I know myself as a player that against the bigger teams you want to show you can do your best.
“The pressure’s off us. It’s a home game but the pressure will all be on them to get the result.”
After just two substitute appearances, striker Nathan Ecclestone has been sent back to Blackpool following his loan, allowing the Cumbrians to bring in versatile German Max Ehmer from Queens Park Rangers.
“He’s going to train with us today, and we’ll make a decision then,” said Kavanagh (pictured left) when asked if the 21-year-old would feature today. “He can play at full-back, on the left or right of central defence and as a holding midfielder. We’ve brought him in primarily as a centre-back. I’ve been looking to bring in a centre-half for a while.
“He’s got experience having played for Yeovil, Preston and Stevenage. He’s coming in just looking for minutes on the pitch.”
Carlisle’s form has tailed off since Kavanagh’s impressive start.
He won his first three games after replacing Greg Abbott, drew the next two, and has lost three of the last four, including consecutive defeats to Bristol City and Gillingham. The performance against Bristol City was satisfactory, no more than that, but it wasn’t anywhere near what we wanted at the weekend,” said the former Sunderland and Middlesbrough midfielder. “We had a couple of poor decisions from the referee but didn’t do enough to win.
“It became a really disappointing afternoon. The good thing about this game, and especially League One, is there’s always a quick opportunity to put it right.”
Carlisle have no fresh injuries and left-back Conor Townsend back from suspension, but Lee Miller misses out after his red card at Gillingham.
“I’ve spoken to him and disciplined him,” said Kavanagh. “But his attitude since has been first class.”