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Paul Simpson eyes Carlisle United homecoming after Derby County draw his old club in cup

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: June 18, 2014

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THERE will be a homecoming for Derby County first-team coach Paul Simpson in the first round of the League Cup.

The Rams have been drawn away to Carlisle United and will make the long trip to Cumbria during the week beginning August 11.

Simpson hails from Carlisle and enjoyed a successful spell as player-manager at Brunton Park, leading the club to successive promotions.

He joked: “It is probably the only chance my family get to see me – an away game at Carlisle in the cup!

“When I saw that we were a seeded team and who were in the unseeded section, there was every chance it was going to be one of my ex-clubs and I have got to say I am delighted it is Carlisle.

“Apart from the journey, which everybody will give me almighty grief about us having to go up there, it is a great game to look forward to.

“It is my home town, the team I used to go and watch as a kid when we got to the heady heights of top of the old First Division. I was there watching in those days.

“And right up until I played for the Manchester City ‘A team’ on Saturday mornings, I used to be there every home game with my dad, stood on the Warwick Road End, so it will be nice to go back.

“It will be the first time I have been back since I left the club and I’m looking forward to it.”

Simpson revealed that if things have worked out differently, he might have returned to Carlisle instead of joining Steve McClaren’s coaching staff at the end of September.

The 47-year-old was interviewed for the manager’s job, which was eventually given to caretaker boss Graham Kavanagh.

“I was being talked about to go back there,” said Simpson. “I did actually have an interview for it but Graham Kavanagh did a really good job when he was the caretaker.

“When I walked out of Pride Park after I had agreed my contract here as first-team coach, I had a voicemail on my phone from their chairman to say they had chosen to stick with Graham Kavanagh.

“So it was a good day for me in all honesty, because I had got a perfect job for me, coming here to work alongside Steve McClaren.

“I had waited months for an opportunity to come around and then two came along at the same weekend but, thankfully, I have got the one that I really did want.”

Kavanagh was unable to keep Carlisle in League One last season as his side finished third from bottom and were relegated.

However, they have claimed Championship scalps in the League Cup in the past two years - knocking out Blackburn Rovers and Ipswich Town.

“It is a good football club, the pitch will be nice and I am sure Graham Kavanagh will be trying everything to get a squad together to have a real push to get back up into League One,” said Simpson.

“It is a tricky tie - it is never an easy place to go to.

“They have very passionate supporters. I don’t expect there to be a huge crowd on the night but they will be scrapping for the lives. They will be want a result.

“Last season, I went to watch them play Blackburn, so I know it is going to be tricky for us and it is a game that we need to prepare properly for.”

There will also be a return to Carlisle for Derby defender Richard Keogh, who spent two seasons with the club from 2008 to 2010.

Keogh became a favourite with the fans and was named player of the year in 2009-10.

Carlisle are captained by former Rams midfielder Paul Thirlwell.

The sides last met in a League Cup tie in 1990, with Derby winning the two-legged second round encounter 2-1 on aggregate.

After a 1-1 draw at Carlisle, the Rams won the second leg 1-0 at the Baseball Ground - both of their goals in the tie being scored by Dean Saunders.

Last season, Derby reached the third round of the competition, beating Oldham Athletic and Brentford before losing 2-1 at Carlisle’s conquerors, Leicester City.

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