DENNIS BOOTH has warned his former employers Huddersfield Town: “Carlisle United can match anybody in League I.”
The Cumbrian club’s head of football affairs was assistant manager to Brian Horton at the Galpharm between 1995-97.
And he was back in West Yorkshire on Boxing Day to run the rule over Town as they beat Chesterfield 1-0.
Originally from Derbyshire, Booth, now 62, spent his playing days as a midfielder with Charlton, Blackpool, Southend, Lincoln, Watford and Hull.
He has since worked for Hull, Stafford Rangers, Bristol Rovers, Port Vale, Nottingham Forest, Nuneaton Borough and Preston as well as Town and Carlisle, where he is in his second spell.
Having assisted Paul Simpson and John Ward at Brunton Park, he is enjoying working with Greg Abbott, the former Bradford, Halifax and Hull defender.
Abbott, who cut his managerial teeth at Bradford minnows Thackley before coaching at Leeds, became assistant boss of Carlisle in 2006 and manager in 2008.
“Greg has got a good, honest bunch of lads here. They know what’s required and they get on with it,” said Booth.
“At our level it is about managing players, knowing who wants a kick up the backside or an arm around the shoulder and Greg is good at that.
“At the bigger clubs it’s different – if you’re not happy as a player, it seems that you can just walk out and go to Argentina.”
Booth added: “If we play, we are a good side and a match for anybody. To be where we are in the league is a good achievement. It shows we can compete with the big clubs.”
Carlisle, Town’s opponents in their first match of 2011 as well as the last, come to the Galpharm tonight in eighth place, three below Lee Clark’s side, and chasing a sixth away win and 10th in all.
Bury, Leyton Orient, Tranmere, Yeovil and Scunthorpe have all been overcome on their own turf, while it took a last-gasp goal to deny Abbott’s side victory at Preston on Monday.
The 3-3 stalemate was the second draw in a row for a side last beaten in league football back on November 19, when Sheffield United won 1-0 at Bramall Lane.
Abbott must do without Rory Loy after the former Rangers striker broke a leg at Deepdale, but can bring in Paddy Madden or Sunderland loan midfielder Liam Noble in a reshuffle.
His squad is largely the same as last season, when there were five clashes between Town and Carlisle, with the main additions being frontmen Jon-Paul McGovern and Lee Miller.
McGovern, 31, was signed from Swindon, having previously seen service with MK Dons, Sheffield Wednesday, Livingston and Celtic.
And three-times capped Scotland international Miller, 27, arrived from Middlesbrough having had spells at Aberdeen, Dundee United, Bristol City and Falkirk.
The Scot is Carlisle’s nine-goal top scorer, with ex-Town man James Berrett and African ace Francois Zoko chipping in with six apiece.
Zoko netted when Town drew 2-2 at Brunton Park last New Year’s Day, and after seeing him score in each of Carlisle’s last three games, Abbott believes that after an indifferent spell, the 28-year-old from the Ivory Coast is back on form.
“He has been terrific in training, his attitude has been so good and it is great to listen to his interviews after the matches when he scores,” he said.
“We think a lot of him. He knows that and we keep telling him. At Preston we maybe saw a player with something to prove.
“He is in the team on merit and will probably have to stay in the team on merit.”