Paul Simpson has two fresh injury headaches ahead of Carlisle United’s clash with Swindon Town this weekend.
The Blues boss today revealed that defender Ben Barclay and midfielder Jayden Harris could miss the game.
It comes at a time United are already coping with a number of other absentees and doubts.
Simpson said: “We’ve got concerns over Ben Barclay and Jayden Harris.
“We’ll see how they are come Friday morning but it may be that we might have to make changes.
“It’s a really tough time for us at the moment. The squad is getting tested to the limit.”
United’s manager, speaking at his latest press conference, did not say what the specific problems were regarding Barclay and Harris.
“If I was to say [for example], 'He’s got a sore shoulder', it just gives a little target for someone to go and exploit if they are fit to play,” Simpson said.
“They’ve both got issues we hope aren’t going be too serious. If they’re not fit for the weekend I’ll tell you [more about the injuries] on Saturday.
“If there’s any doubt that it’s something that could be made worse, we won’t be making them worse.
“We’ve got 44 games left to go in a league campaign, and I’m not going to throw everything into one game and risk losing them for more time.”
It comes as United are already without several senior players, and the Blues still awaiting clarity on injuries to Morgan Feeney and Ryan Edmondson.
The former is definitely out of Saturday’s game while the latter is continuing to be monitored.
On striker Edmondson, who was substituted in the first half of Tuesday’s Carabao Cup defeat at Shrewsbury Town, Simpson said: “He’s had a niggle around his hip area since the Workington game in pre-season. We’ve kept taking him out of the odd session, he’s come off in games and been sore.
“Yesterday he said it felt really good, then today it’s flared up again after he came in for treatment.
“He’s had a scan yesterday, but we’re still waiting for the report back – the radiologist and surgeon who we wanted to have a look is on holiday so nobody else has read it yet.
“It’s a bit frustrating, we can’t quite get to the bottom of what’s causing the problem. He went into the game feeling fine, then one of their players cleared the ball, it smacked him on his hip and his muscle went into spasm and he was struggling to run with it.
“That’s why we took him off. We just need to see how he goes, what the results of the scan are and how he is tomorrow morning.”
Defender Feeney, meanwhile, is set to see a specialist on Friday morning regarding his heel problem.
“Morgan has still got a medical boot on, he can’t put any weight through his foot at the moment,” Simpson said.
“Two radiologists have looked at the scan but it’s still inconclusive. We can see what the damage is but don’t know exactly what’s the right way to treat it.
“Hopefully after Friday we’ll get a clear plan on how we’re going to move forward with Morgan.”
United are also without Brennan Dickenson, Tobi Sho-Silva, Taylor Charters, Joel Senior and Josh Dixon, though Charters could return to training next week.
Simpson stressed that, despite the injury pile-up, he will not be tempted to throw new signing Paul Huntington straight into action on Saturday.
He said the experienced defender needs to build up his fitness and it is too early to risk him.
“As much as I could be daft and throw him straight into it, it’s far too risky to do something like that,” Simpson said.
“I’ve got to be patient and work with him. He’s done two sessions today, he’ll be back in to work again tomorrow and Saturday, have a rest day Sunday, then we have to build him up over the next two weeks, to get him to a level where we feel as though he’s fit enough to go into the side.
“That will be a real bonus for us and him to get him involved and hopefully it won’t take too long.”
Simpson said that, while United’s injury list is a concern, it was not a “crisis” and, in most cases, were not problems the Blues could have anticipated.
“Sadly, in elite sport and professional sport, where you’re pushing players and demanding them to get faster, stronger, fitter all the time, it’s inevitable you’re going to pick up injuries along the way,” he said.
“It’s not a case of blaming anyone individually. It’s about all of us looking at how we can make it better and stop the injuries.
“With Barclay and Feeney, they’re not injuries we could have done anything about. They’re just awkward landings or pushing off and feeling something.”
In terms of picking his team for Saturday, Simpson added: “My ideal scenario is they’re declared fit on Friday morning so we can do our last bits of preparation on our team, in training.
“If that doesn’t happen I have to make a call as to whether we change the team and go with somebody who is fit, and that’s a decision I’ll make between now and our final session on Friday morning.”