Graham Kavanagh is hoping Carlisle United make the most of home advantage tonight after dropping to their lowest position since he took over as manager.
Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Gillingham saw the Cumbrians fall to 20th in League One, a point above the relegation zone.
It was the more surprising because they had won six of their previous eight at Brunton Park. They have a quick opportunity to make amends at home to Bradford City tonight.
“The home performances since I took over have on the whole been very decent,” said Kavanagh.
“In certain games away from home individual errors have cost us. In a lot of games we’ve performed very well between the 18-yard boxes. We’ve been consistent there and as aggressive as I would like.
“It’s just at either end we’ve been a bit more patchy.
“The home games have seemed to be better for whatever reason.
“I don’t know if it’s because the players are a little bit more comfortable. It’s something we’re going to have to address.”
A bad mistake by Courtney Meppen-Walter played its part on Saturday, Cody McDonald pouncing to score what proved to be the decisive goal.
Kavanagh will consider whether to hand Sam Byrne his full debut after the 18-year-old became the latest player to join on loan from Manchester United.
“He’s been excellent,” Kavanagh said of the striker, who has made two substitute appearances so far. “He’s come in from Manchester United and he’s a hustle-bustle type of player with an eye for goal.
“He made his debut for us at Bristol City and said on the bus afterwards it was the biggest crowd (11,029) he’d played in front of.
“Like a lot of the Man United lads he’s quiet but he’s got a real steeliness about him.
“I understand the way the loan market works. Generally clubs give us players because they’re not getting in their team. They want to give their players a platform where they can make mistakes.
“You’ve got to utilise it as well as you can.
“The clubs have been really, really good in terms of money and the players we’ve been able to get.
“You just have to have a very good scouting network to make sure you get the best players available. And you do need an element of luck.
“You hope they come in, settle in quickly and adapt to the new environment. It’s difficult when they come from a big club but they’ve all been pretty good.”
Two more loan signings were added to the squad at the weekend, with Wigan Athletic midfielder Danny Redmond and Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford making debuts against the Gills, the 42nd and 43rd players to play for the club this season, more than any other club in the Football League.
England Under-19 international Pickford, whose previous loans came at Darlington, Alfreton and Burton Albion, jumped at the chance to join after Oscar Ustari’s arrival pushed him down the Stadium of Light pecking order. “I played in League Two at the start of the season so this will be another step up for me,” he told Carlisle’s official website.
“Playing games really helps with confidence and as you get into the loan spell you can feel yourself learning and maturing as a keeper. You learn when to come for things and when not to, so maturity is one of the main things I’m gaining from these loan spells.
“The staff at Sunderland have just told me to do what they know I’m capable of doing.
“I’ll just keep my head down and be as good as I can be. Hopefullythat will bring some good performances.”