Kelvin Etuhu is set to return from a month-long injury absence this weekend to join the battle for midfield places at Carlisle United.

The 30-year-old has been sidelined since late October with a hamstring injury which interrupted his positive start to the campaign.

Blues manager John Sheridan, though, expects Etuhu to be available to return against Forest Green Rovers on Saturday as 11th-placed United bid to make more inroads into the upper reaches of League Two.

The experienced former Bury man may, though, face a wait to force his way back into the side given Carlisle’s strong display at Swindon last time out.

Sheridan - who said defender Tom Parkes is also close to a return - is pleased that more of his senior men are nearing availability ahead of a busy run of games.

“Kelvin will be available for next week and will train [this week],” the Carlisle manager said.

“Parkesy possibly as well.

“Coming up to Christmas we’ve got loads of games thick and fast, and I want them all fit and available.”

Etuhu has been out since the 1-0 defeat to Yeovil at Brunton Park on October 27.

That came after he had been involved in 17 of United’s first 19 games of the campaign in all competitions.

That made it his best run of regular action since joining the Cumbrians in 2016, his first campaign affected by a string of injuries.

Centre-half Parkes, meanwhile, has been sidelined since he limped out of the defeat to Macclesfield on October 20 with a hamstring problem.

While Etuhu will face competition from the likes of Saturday’s two-goal star Regan Slater in midfield, Parkes must force his way back into a back line that has seen Sheridan use three centre-halves in recent games.

Gary Liddle, Macaulay Gillesphey and Anthony Gerrard have combined to help keep clean sheets against Crewe and Swindon in the FA Cup and league respectively.

United, meanwhile, will continue to monitor skipper Danny Grainger after the Cumbrian defender missed the 4-0 Swindon win with a calf injury.

Carlisle’s busy period includes a spell of three games in eight days, Forest Green’s visit followed by a trip to Notts County next Tuesday, before the FA Cup second round trip to Lincoln.

Five league games games then follow in December.

Sheridan added: “Forest Green are a tough team who have been going well this season, and we’ve also got the likes of Colchester not far away.

“They are important games. We’ve just got to keep this momentum going and if we keep winning games, we’ll get closer to the teams that are above us.”

Sheridan has seen his side win three of their last four games - a welcome improvement after a period of one victory in eight.

He added: “I believe we’ve got an excellent chance of getting out of the division and I want to try and instil that into the players.

“I want them to believe it more than anyone. [Saturday’s] performance proved we are a decent side.

“Looking at the results [elsewhere in the division] you just can’t predict who’s going to beat who.

“We’ve just got to worry about ourselves, go on a little run and stay in the mix if we can leading up to Christmas.”