Manager Steven Pressley admits it will be a “hammer blow” if Carlisle United lose Mark Cullen for a large part of their run-in.

The Blackpool loan striker is having a groin injury assessed after he had to be substituted in the first half of the 2-1 win to Swindon.

Pressley said it was too early to discuss the possible timescale of Cullen’s absence.

But he conceded it would be a serious blow if the 26-year-old is forced to miss several of their remaining 10 games.

“Only on Friday night [at the fans’ forum] I was saying he could prove to be a great signing for us. So it’s unfortunate," Pressley said.

“It’s sometimes the [case with] the January window, when you’re trying to get players in and they’re lacking a bit of fitness or haven’t had game time behind them. Sometimes on the back of that they can fatigue.

“We were careful with him as well through the week, we’d reduced the loads on the players, we thought we’d prepared right but unfortunately for him he’s gone down.

“[If he is out for a long spell] it will be a real hammer blow for us.”

Pressley also confirmed that teenage winger Liam McCarron faces seven to eight weeks on the sidelines with a knee injury.

“That’s a blow because the likelihood is he’ll miss most of the remainder of the season,” United’s manager said.

“It’s two attacking players we’ve lost and we’ll have to reassess to the best way forward and also look at the squad.

“We do have some fresh legs available for Tuesday [against Notts County] and I’ll have to consider that. This [the Swindon game] was a hard game for some of them.”

Pressley handed sub Connor Simpson his first outing since late January and said the Preston loan striker was a work in progress.

“It [Cullen’s absence] is an opportunity for a number of players. It was good to give Connor some time. We’ve been working on aspects of his game and I thought when he went on for a short period he showed more aggression in those aspects.

“It’s step by step with the kid. He’s a really good lad that wants to improve and he showed the right type of attitude when he came on.”