Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Paul Is Back to Where He Belongs; Carlisle Captain Ready to Return

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Paul Is Back to Where He Belongs; Carlisle Captain Ready to Return

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

HAVING hailed Paul Thirlwell's impact on Carlisle United's promotion bid, manager John Ward wants to see his captain start influencing it from the pitch.

The Cumbrians face a crucial period as they chase a place in next season's Championship, with home and away games against third-placed Nottingham Forest sandwiching Saturday's visit of second-placed Doncaster Rovers.

Having been denied the opportunity by last week's late postponement at Crewe Alexandra, former Sunderland midfielder Thirlwell will make the latest comeback of an injury-hit season at home to Forest tonight.

Carlisle's captain has been involved in just six games since Ward took the reins at Brunton Park in early October because of a calf injury, but the Newcastle-born 29-year-old has still impressed.

"He was going to play again on Saturday so he'll be available for us against Forest," Ward confirmed. "He's a good player but his experience is very important to us.

"Even though I haven't really had him as a player yet, he's been an invaluable member of the squad since I came here.

We've been asking him to be in the dressing room, at least for home games, to be around the players and pass on his experience. He's been happy to do that and he's been good to have around.

"He's able to come back into a side which is in good form and confident. The last thing we wanted was to have him coming into a losing team. He's been important for us off the field since I've been here, now I need him to be just as important on it."

Carlisle are a point behind Forest with a game in hand and the odds tonight are in their favour, having won their last 10 home games. Former European Cup winners Forest have not enjoyed an away win for more than two months.

"Our form's going to be tested in the next three games," Ward said. "We need tonight to be a good game for us. …

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