"John (Ward) did a tremendous job here and I put in my programme notes that he should be given a standing ovation for what he has done at this football club. But what I've said to the players is that it will be just eleven players v eleven players and nothing to do with the John Ward factor or the Keith Downing factor, it's team against team.
"Obviously it has an added spice for people to see John come back but we've had no communication for the last five days. That is a bit different because we do keep in touch, we've just had a communication breakdown for the purpose of the game. It wil be an interesting one, I'm looking forward to competing against the man I've admired for many years and I'm hoping the team will give their side who are going very well a really good game.
" We are fully confident that we can continue this home form. I'm sure John will be aware of their poor away form, strong at home but not so clever away, eight goals in five games conceded but third in the league. They have a reason to be there and they are a very well organised side as you expect John's teams to be. They have some good players, (Joe) Garner and (Danny) Graham are a threat upfront and they have got some threats from wide areas too. They are there for a reason and it will be a stern test for us.
"John built this club up and I'm looking to carry on from the foundations he put down. I think anyone who understands football has for respect him for what he did here. It was a difficult decision for him to leave but certainly he deserves all the credit for his achievements.
"He will know our strengths and know what we are capable of but equally he will know his players will be in for a big game tomorrow so we don't want to disappoint him. It will be great to see him back though, I hope, I mean I know there will probably be a mixed reactions about what John did.
"What he's done though in three and a half or four years here is tremendous. He should get a standing ovation and I hope that everybody does that in respect of what he has done here, but it would be nice to put one over the teacher.
"I worked with John for six or seven years and I have a pretty good indication of what the man is like. It amazes me that he hasn't managed at a higher level for more of his career. He induces enjoyment around a club on a daily basis, but gets the most out of his players and certainly has attention to detail.
"I have learned a great deal from him and he has been equally as impressive as assistant manager at Wolves and as the boss here. We spoke over the weekend and we speak regularly, bouncing things off each other as we did when he was here. We work well together, but it will be an interesting concept being in opposite dugouts on Friday and it's the pupil taking on the teacher."
In team news for the Robins tomorrow evening midfielder and skipper John Finnigan is still out of contention as he continues to make his comeback to full fitness after suffering from a persistent foot injury since mid-October. Also missing from the Town squad against Carlisle will be defenders Shane Duff (achilles) and Michael Townsend who is keeping his ear to the ground after a recent sinus operation for labyrinthitis.
Better news for Cheltenham boss Keith Downing though is the news that striker Damian Spencer is fit to play in the match despite failing a medical on his knee at Crewe Alexandra earlier this month that scuppered a £150,000 move to Gresty Road. Last but not least on the injury front ex-Yeovil midfielder Andy Lindegaard will be available after training through a recent hamstring problem today.
In January transfer window news for Town Keith Downing has managed to secure the signings on loan for a month of experienced Bristol City duo Steve Brooker (striker) and Alex Russell (midfielder). Meanwhile moving out of Whaddon Road are frontman Guy Madjo who had returned to Crawley after a two month loan spell, Madjo having subsequently signed for Shrewsbury Town for £20,000, and defender Lee Ridley who has joined Lincoln City on loan for a month. 22-year old striker Craig Reid has also been on trial recently at both Chester City and Oxford United.
The referee for tomorrow's match is Rob Shoebridge from Ripley in Derbyshire, and he will be assisted down the lines by Peter Grove from Stourbridge in the West Midlands and Oleksandr Saliy from Golders Green in London, interestingly Saliy having been a referee in the Ukrainian Premier League before moving to the United Kingdom eight years ago. Meanwhile the fourth official is Mark Weaver from Warley in the West Midlands.