Crewe manager David Artell insists he expects a tough test from Carlisle United in this weekend’s FA Cup clash - as the Blues continue their efforts to secure loan players for the first round tie.

United could be depleted for the trip to the Alexandra Stadium with talks ongoing over the availability of their five loanees.

The wait for confirmation has cast uncertainty over the Cumbrians’ build-up to a game that is worth £36,000 in prize money.

Artell, though, expects a challenging game even if he has earmarked it as one his side can win.

“Carlisle will be a stiff test,” he said on the Railwaymen's website.

“They have had some good results this season under John [Sheridan] but they are a League Two club, we are at home and it is a winnable tie.

“The key will be to believe we can do it. It would be nice to get in the hat for round two because - and I know we say it every season - we could do with a cup run.

“I remember the likes of Burton, Crawley and Yeovil, who have had little cup runs and got a big club and that set them up financially for a couple of years at least.”

Like United, Crewe could also do with the boost of a cup run after some mediocre league form which has left them 18th in League Two.

The Blues will expect to face at least one of their former players in striker Shaun Miller, while defender Michael Raynes will also hope to force his way into the reckoning having played for Crewe’s under-23 side against Leeds on Monday.

Sheridan, meanwhile, is hoping soon to gain confirmation on the availability of his loan men, with doubt remaining over the likes of Ashley Nadesan, Jack Sowerby, Adam Campbell and Jerry Yates.

A fifth loanee, Regan Slater, is expected to be free to play for Carlisle as he is on a season-long loan from Sheffield United - unlike the other four who are on half-season deals and could be required by their parent clubs for the cup in January.

Crewe have permission to play Liverpool’s Corey Whelan this weekend.

Carlisle are also hoping to finalise a goalkeeping coach appointment this week. The Blues remain in talks with an unnamed candidate for the position vacated by Dan Watson last month.

Queen of the South’s Ross Ballantyne has been with the club recently but United are also looking at other options.

United, meanwhile, are opening their Blues Store on Wednesdays for the first time in more than five years.

The club said they had listened to feedback from supporters, particularly with match tickets now available to be bought in the Warwick Road shop.

“We’ve taken on board that a number of supporters would like the convenience of the store being open on a Wednesday, and we are happy to make that the case,” said retail manager Jenny Anderson. The shop is open tomorrow from 10am-5pm.