JABO’S FEEL­ING WHEELY GOOD!

Pre-sea­son train­ing camp opened striker’s eyes

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Joshua Richards

A DAY of en­light­en­ment at a gru­elling pre-sea­son train­ing camp is what Carlisle striker Jabo Ibehre cred­its for his un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally pro­lific start to the sea­son.

In 16 pre­vi­ous pro­fes­sional cam­paigns, Ibehre has only reg­is­tered dou­ble fig­ures twice, yet he was sit­ting pretty on nine strikes al­ready this term ahead of yesterday’s visit from Da­gen­ham & Red­bridge.

And the 32-year-old points to time spent with his team-mates at the Cas­sius Camps fa­cil­ity for in­spir­ing his seem­ingly new lease of life.

Chal­lenges

Boss Keith Curle did not tell his play­ers their des­ti­na­tion as they boarded the team bus on a July morn­ing and most were com­pletely out of their com­fort zones as they spent time next to the pic­turesque Lake Windermere com­plet­ing hail­bay press ups, tyre flip­ping and a num­ber of other chal­lenges.

And Ibehre be­lieves the unique ex­pe­ri­ence has played its part in his su­perb start.

“The camp dur­ing pre-sea­son was one of the hard­est things I’ve ever done,” said Ibehre. “It chal­lenges you men­tally as well as phys­i­cally. You are tak­ing on ob­sta­cles and chal­lenges that you think you can’t over­come, but you soon re­alise you can. It opens your mind up and re­ally pushes you to your lim­its. It’s amaz­ing what you can do if you put your mind to it.

“I’ve of­ten scored on my de­but, so I ex­pected to score in my first match for Carlisle. Once I did that I thought I could go on a run, en­joy each game, then there’s no rea­son it should stop.

“I know I’ve not done it be­fore, but if I get my head down and don’t think about any­thing then hope­fully it can con­tinue.”

Wal­sall and Ley­ton Ori­ent fans saw the best of Ibehre in front of goal, but the ac­knowl­edge­ment of his over­all work in the fi­nal third was made by Colch­ester United in 2012-13 – hand­ing him their player of the sea­son award de­spite him only scor­ing in six matches.

Such strengths con­vinced Curle to sign Ibehre this sum­mer, stat­ing from the off he would not be bur­dened with ex­pec­ta­tions of be­ing free-scor­ing.

Six goals in his first three ap­pear­ances, in­clud­ing a hat-trick against Cam­bridge United, may well have al­tered Curle’s think­ing, but Ibehre in­sists prov­ing his man­ager wrong was not the plan.

“I’m just happy that I’m able to con­trib­ute and help,” he added. “But I need to keep pro­duc­ing, to add more goals and help us climb the ta­ble.

“I’ve al­ways had chances, wher­ever I have played. But it’s al­ways been that I miss more than I score or I’ve had in­juries when I’ve started go­ing on a good run and then it’s taken me a while to get go­ing again once I’m back to fit­ness. So far I’m on a run, and I’m still fit and look­ing for­ward to each game.

“I think I’m get­ting the re­wards now for the hard work over the years. I’ve had a won­der­ful time so far, and I’m very fo­cused on my game. I couldn’t have started much bet­ter.”

Re­wards

Along­side a strong start in League Two, Carlisle have been ex­cel­lent in the Cap­i­tal One Cup and go to Liver­pool in round three later this month.

Whether Ibehre plays at An­field, though, is down to Curle. He has started as a sub­sti­tute in each of the last two rounds and the Lon­doner feels that might be a lucky omen.

“If I’m on the bench then so be it,” he says. “What­ever hap­pens hope­fully I’ll get the chance to play my part, but it’s down to the man­ager. I’m not re­ally fussed.

“We want to go there and play some football. We’re not go­ing there to make up the num­bers, it’s our chance on a big stage to show what we can do.

“I’ve been on the bench in the first two ties, so maybe I should stay there at An­field.”

PIC­TURES: Amy Nixon, Carlisle United

POWER GAME: Jabo Ibehre pushes a gi­ant tyre and, inset, runs with a load on his back

PIC­TURE: Media Im­age

YOU’RE THE MAN! Jabo Ibehre is hailed by the Carlisle fans af­ter net­ting the win­ner in the 3-2 vic­tory at Hartle­pool

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