CARLISLE boss Greg Abbott will be hoping his team can maintain their bid to reach the League One play-offs – especially after the week he’s had.
They travel down to Sheffield Wednesday today knowing that if other results go their way, a win at Hillsborough could see them climb into the play-off places.
It will be a welcome relief to Abbott if his men can deliver some good news to the fans given that the bad variety is what he’s been dishing out to many of the club’s youngsters this week.
This is the time of year that every manager hates when they have to sit down with many members of the youth team and tell them that their days at the club are numbered.
Four of those players – Mark Beck, Brad Potts, Josh Todd and Dave Symington – were the lucky few whom Abbott is retaining and they will be drafted into the main squad for next season.
But for the vast majority, Abbott had to sit them down and destroy the dreams they’ve had since childhood of becoming a professional footballer.
He lamented: “It’s a time of the year you look forward to and dread in equal amounts because you are talking about the hopes and dreams of decent young men.
“It’s never nice to have to tell someone they don’t have a future but, on the flip-side of that, it’s a great feeling when you are offering a contract and you can see the joy that brings. It’s been a tough period anyway with lots of work to do but you have to find time in your schedule to do this part of the job properly. Whatever your decision the lads have worked hard for two years and they deserve to be given a full explanation as to why you have decided to take them on or release them.
“As with every year we’ve had tears of joy with the lads who have been kept on and tears of sadness from the players we have decided to let go.
“Generally we get this part of the process right but we take no joy or satisfaction from telling a player he won’t be with us any longer. We wish him well and he leaves here knowing that we will all be there to help in any way we can if it is at all possible.
“The four we have taken have been told in no uncertain terms that the hard work starts now. They’ve given themselves a chance and they have to come back after the summer break ready and raring to go.
“They need to work on fitness and strength and make sure they can compete with the senior players because they have to break into a group who are already fighting for a first team place.
“They’re part of my squad now and they have just as much chance of getting a starting place in July as any other player. Their performances and ability will dictate that. If they’re good enough, they’ll be involved. By giving them a contract I am telling them that I think they can do it. It really is over to them now.”
Meanwhile, Carlisle winger Andy Welsh has urged his team-mates not to lose their belief in the promotion dream. Their hopes have taken a knock following two 1-0 defeats against Charlton and Stevenage respectively this past week.
However, with nine points up for grabs from today until the end of the season, Welsh states they’re not out of it yet and insists a play-off place can still be won. Welsh said: “We’ve got to pick ourselves up now and go into Saturday’s game believing we can still do it. While everyone is upset about not getting anything from Stevenage, we’re still only a point off the top six and there are nine more points left to pick up. It’s going to be tough but we’ll be giving it our best shot, starting with the game at Sheffield Wednesday.
“Hillsborough is a massive stadium and with them pushing for an automatic promotion place they’ll have a big crowd behind them so maybe we should treat it like a cup final and try to thrive off that atmosphere. We’ve shown we’re capable of getting results against the big teams in this division so let’s hope it’s another memorable day for us on Saturday.”