SHEFFIELD UNITED: There’s trouble at home for Greg Abbott

Under fire: Dwindling crowds and a run of defeats  are making life difficult for Carlisle  manager Greg        Abbott

Under fire: Dwindling crowds and a run of defeats are making life difficult for Carlisle manager Greg Abbott

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ALL is not well at Carlisle United.

Just 2,980 fans turned up to Brunton Park last weekend as the Cumbrians crashed out of the FA Cup. Attendances continue to fall and the club are in danger of being dragged into a relegation battle.

Sheffield United will fancy their chances of getting a positive result tomorrow as Carlisle’s home record does not make pleasant reading.

You have to go back to October 23 for the last time they won in front of their own supporters.

They have lost six of their 10 home league matches and three in a row in all competitions, conceding 10 goals against Leyton Orient, Doncaster Rovers and Bournemouth.

These are worrying times for Carlisle boss Greg Abbott.

He recently celebrated his four-year anniversary as permanent manager but his team are not giving him much Christmas cheer.

He acknowledged: “We need to do better at home to get belief from the fans and believe from within on the pitch.

“We aren’t going to throw the towel in but we do know how difficult it is when you are up against financially-powerful clubs.”

The pressure is mounting on Abbott, who has won 82 of his 227 matches in charge. He is determined to rectify their form and win back the disillusioned fans.

“They (the fans) just want the lads to roll their sleeves up and give everything they have got in their locker,” he said. “If they get chances they need to hit the target, if they get a chance to put the ball in the box they need to make sure it is a good cross and if it is a tackle they need to tackle.

“They need to do all the basic parts of their game right and they will get a round of applause from fans.

“The fans are a pretty genuine and pretty honest and that’s all they are after.

“The players generally give good accounts of themselves in terms of endeavour and honesty and that’s what we want. We will be back - there’s no question about that.”

Injuries have taken their toll on Carlisle’s squad. James Berrett and Frank Simek, formerly of Sheffield Wednesday, are the latest stars to pick up knocks. Midfield playmaker Berrett missed the Bournemouth defeat after picking up a groin injury in training last Friday while right-back Simek was forced to come off at half-time with knee ligament damage. In the absence of Simek, Valentin Gjokaj is set to be deployed in the right-back position.

Key players, such as Rory Loy and Lee Miller, are nearing first-team returns but are unlikely to feature.

Loy has not played since breaking his leg at Preston North End on Boxing Day. There is an outside chance he could be named on the substitutes bench but the League One clash will come too soon for Miller.

“I can’t wait until we get everybody fit and we get that boost,” Abbott said.

“We need to get fans watching positive, aggressive, winning football again.”

Captain Paul Thirlwell, who has recently recovered from an ankle problem, has challenged his teammates to stop the rot, starting at home to United.

“The lads are devastated but there is no point in us being down about it as we are the only ones who can put it right,” said Thirlwell.

“We are paid to do a job here and at the minute, at home, we are not doing it as well as we should be.

“We have to stand up and be men and accept that.

“It’s not through lack of effort or not wanting to do it.

“Whether it is mental or not, we need to put it right.”