GREG Abbott has called upon his Carlisle United side to raise their game as they face promotion candidates Swindon Town this afternoon.
The Cumbrians head to the County Ground looking to shrug off the disappointment of their New Year’s Day defeat at Crewe Alexandra, but Abbott knows they will have their work cut out against Paolo Di Canio’s Robins.
Swindon have won their last three games and are unbeaten in their last four.
They go into the game in fifth place in League One but with a game in hand on the other three sides in the play-off places, and two games in hand on top two Tranmere and Sheffield United.
“We’ve been working since Tuesday to make sure we are fully in focus for what will be a tough game against a very good side,” said Abbott.
“They’ve had a couple of games called off and they’ve had some really big wins over the festive period, and they will be wanting to build on that.
“Their quality speaks for itself and they are a side who will come at us if we allow them to.
“They’re in a strong position in the table, with a couple of games in hand, and they will be looking to push on with what is their third home fixture in a row.
“Swindon have shown they are a good side but we know we can match anyone when we do things properly. If we stick together and make sure we do our jobs right across the pitch then we will be causing problems.
“We always back ourselves to create chances so it comes down to putting them away when they come, and to making sure we are defending properly from back to front.
“It’s another great game to look forward to and we go there in very high spirits.
“Hopefully we’ll be coming back with smiles on our faces.”
The first half of Carlisle’s season has been a major disappointment, but over the Christmas period the Cumbrians did manage to win back-to-back games for the first time this term, following up their Boxing Day victory over basement side Hartlepool at Brunton Park with another home success over Bury last weekend.
But their progress up the table was halted at Crewe, and Abbott is hoping that defeat will not dent his side’s confidence.
He said: “Our job is to carry on the good work we have been doing ourselves over the course of the last month or so.
“We have seen the lads grow in confidence and we were gutted not to get a result on Tuesday. I was very disappointed immediately after the game but once we got back into training we knew we had to concentrate on the positive things which have come out of our recent performances.
“If we continue to work like we have been then we are going to pick up points quickly.”
Carlisle skipper Paul Thirlwell missed the Crewe game with the calf injury he suffered against Hartlepool and remains sidelined.
But Cumbrians striker Rory Loy could make a first start since returning from a broken leg as a substitute against Crewe in midweek.