Carlisle United manager Steven Pressley is welcoming the return of “key player” Jamie Devitt.

Irishman Devitt will be in contention for this Saturday’s home clash against League Two play-off rivals Swindon as he comes back after a three-game suspension.

The playmaker was sent off in United’s 2-1 defeat at Crewe last month and has missed the 3-2 home defeat to MK Dons, a 1-1 draw at Colchester and Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Newport County since which has left the Cumbrians ninth in the league table - but still only a point outside the play-offs.

“It’s important, and I think he’s a key player,” Pressley said of Devitt.

“I think that he’s been a very good player for the club this season, he’s always created moments and scored goals.

"When you’re not doing that at this moment in time, it’s important that we have players that can.”

But ahead of the clash with the Robins, a place and three points behind Carlisle, the fitness of teenage winger Liam McCarron - who turns 18 today - will be assessed after he came off with a knee injury at half-time in Carlisle’s reserve friendly at Middlesbrough on Tuesday which ended in a 3-0 defeat for the Blues.

Former Carlisle loan midfielder Adam Clayton was among the Boro scorers, along with Northern Ireland international Paddy McNair and Under-23 striker Mitchell Curry.

Keeper Louis Gray, centre-back Peter Grant, fit-again Jason Kennedy, George Glendon, McCarron, Connor Simpson and Nathan Thomas all started for the Blues as they were given valuable game time.

United coach Gavin Skelton was pleased with the work-out despite the defeat.

“It was a pleasing performance,” he said on the club website. “In these games, you tend to see experienced professionals, some who are coming back and a mix of younger players, so they all have different things to play for.

“I thought everybody got something from the game and I don’t think 3-0 was a fair reflection of our performance in the end.

"Our young lads acquitted themselves really well, as did the senior lads, because it can be difficult to play in reserve games at times.

“The attitude from the older players was excellent and that rubbed off on the young lads. There wasn’t a lot in the game overall and it was just the clinical finishing that gave them the edge. 

“We hit the crossbar, their keeper made some good saves, and we found that they tended to score just after we’d missed a chance, which was frustrating.”

Meanwhile Devitt - PFA Bristol Street Motors League Two player of the month for January - was presented with the award by ardent Carlisle fan Abbie Crosbie.

Crosbie, 20, made the trip to Brunton Park to present Devitt with the gong.

“Winning the award is very good, it’s the fans vote so it means a lot,” said Devitt.

Crosbie added: “The whole family are massive Blues fans and we go to as many matches as possible.

“It was brilliant to meet Jamie and present him with his award.

"He’s having a brilliant season and, although we’re just outside the play-off places, I think we can do it and I’m dreaming of a trip to Wembley in May.”