Scout report: What can Sunderland expect from Carlisle United in tonight's Carabao Cup clash?

Carlisle United manager Keith Curle.
Carlisle United manager Keith Curle.
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Sunderland travel to Carlisle United in the second round of the Carabao Cup tonight - but what can they expect from their Cumbrian counterparts?

The Black Cats knocked-out Bury in the first round thanks to George Honeyman's strike and were rewarded with a trip to Brunton Park.

There, they will meet a Carlisle side who have enjoyed some real success in this competition in recent years and will be keen to take another scalp.

We put the Cumbrians under the microscope to get the lowdown on Keith Curle's side ahead of the big game:

What should Sunderland expect?

Carlisle will be well-prepared for Simon Grayson's side, make no mistake about that.

Curle prides himself on setting up a team to combat the opposition's strengths and will not be afraid to tinker with shape or personnel if he thinks it will get United a result.

The former Wimbledon defender likes his side to be tactically flexible and is comfortable in switching formations mid-match.

It's therefore difficult to predict how he will line up his side against the Black Cats.

He opted for a 4-2-3-1 in the opening game of the season before a more robust 4-4-2 was used to great effect in a first league victory of the season at Cambridge.

Curle has even utilised a 3-5-2 in the past, so Sunderland will have to ensure they are prepared for all eventualities.

Under Curle, Carlisle have developed a reputation as a good footballing side who look to play out from the back before getting their more creative players on the ball.

But the Blues aren't afraid of going direct if needs be and may well find that a useful tactic against higher-division opposition.

Sunderland will also need to be wary of set-pieces which have proved a useful means of scoring for the Cumbrians over recent seasons.

Who should we watch out for?

While the Carlisle squad is lacking in household names, there are some strong players who have the ability to cause the Black Cats some problems.

Nicky Adams is the most creative influence in the United side and, on his day, is one of the best players in League Two.

His delivery is inch-perfect and if he's allowed the space to pick out a cross he could provide Carlisle's strikers with plenty of ammunition.

Striker Hallam Hope moved to Brunton Park in the summer and came with excellent pedigree having progressed through the youth ranks at Everton.

The lively frontman could prove a handful for the Sunderland backline and he'll be keen to add some more goals to his game having failed to hit the net regularly this season.

The Cumbrians' skipper, Danny Grainger, is also a potential danger man.

His expertise lies in his set piece delivery, with the full-back taking responsibility for United's free-kicks.

If the Blues win anything around the area, expect Grainger to be first over the ball.

How have they fared in this competition?

Carlisle have enjoyed some real success in this competition in the last two seasons and will be keen for another cup run this season - not least to provide Curle with some more financial resource.

While United crashed out in the second round last season, that doesn't tell the full story.

The Blues held Championship side Derby to a 1-1 draw at the iPro Stadium before cruelly losing out after a long penalty shoot-out.

A year before that, Curle's side knocked out League One outfit Chesterfield before then beating QPR 2-1 at Loftus Road.

Their reward for the win over the R's was a trip to Anfield where a strong Liverpool side struggled to break down the Cumbrians.

The Reds eventually triumphed on penalties after a 1-1 draw, but these results show that Carlisle know how to set-up against the bigger sides.

A similar performance against Sunderland tonight could see them spring yet another shock.