Carlisle United are facing crucial talks in a bid to secure their loan players’ availability for this weekend’s FA Cup clash.

The Blues risk going to Crewe with a seriously depleted squad if they are denied permission to field some of their loanees in Saturday’s first round tie.

Five of United’s regular first-team players are on loan and it is far from certain that all will be available to represent Carlisle in the competition.

Coach Paul Murray said discussions would be held between the relevant parties this week.

“We’re always talking, and we might have [some] and we might not have [some],” Murray said.

“We’ll have to wait and see.

“Even if we get the ones we’re trying to get sorted for the game, we’ll be a bit light on numbers.

“If a lot of the loans won’t be able to play it will be a case of getting a team together and seeing how many subs we have.

“That’s the reality of it. But whatever team is put out there we’ll be looking to win the game and progress through to the next round.”

Of United’s five loanees, it is expected that Sheffield United midfielder Regan Slater will be able to play on Saturday given he is on a season-long deal.

Their other four, though, are on half-season loans, meaning their parent clubs could opt to prevent them from playing for United in case they are needed for cup duty when they return in January.

That means Carlisle must try to persuade Fleetwood to allow Ashley Nadesan and Jack Sowerby to figure at Crewe this weekend.

Morecambe’s stance on Adam Campbell, and Rotherham’s take on Jerry Yates’ availability, must also be confirmed.

All the loan players have been allowed to play for United in other cup competitions this season.

Campbell was not allowed to face his parent club in the Checkatrade Trophy and the league, but was still free to play for Carlisle against other Trophy opposition, as well as in the Carabao Cup.

If United are denied permission to field several loanees it could force John Sheridan to look to the club’s younger players to fill an already depleted squad.

Sidelined senior men Hallam Hope, Tom Parkes and Kelvin Etuhu are unlikely to return this weekend, while players loaned out by Carlisle recently - Max Brown, Kieron Olsen and Jordan Holt - have all played for Workington Reds in the FA Cup this season.

At Macclesfield in the league last month manager Sheridan promoted youth player Charlie Birch to his squad, but the teenager limped out of last Thursday’s FA Youth Cup defeat at Fleetwood with a knee injury.

The scramble to fill their squad comes ahead of a tie which takes on extra importance in a campaign that sees United operating under a slashed budget, with £36,000 prize money on offer.

Murray added: “We’ve got to try and progress in every competition we’re in and we’ll look to do that going to Crewe.”