Steven Pressley is calling upon Carlisle United’s squad players to “step up” for their trip to Stevenage with the Blues likely to be without a number of senior players.

Despite this week returning to training after knee surgery, defender Macaulay Gillesphey is not ready to start, while captain Danny Grainger and Mark Cullen also are set to miss out.

Mike Jones will also miss play-off chasing United’s trip to 12th-placed Stevenage this Saturday as he serves a ban after his red card in last weekend’s dramatic 3-2 win over Bury.

And Blues boss Pressley, whose team are only a single point behind Exeter who sit in the final play-off place, also says he has fitness doubts over “one or two” unnamed players who he describes as “big players” for Carlisle.

“Danny will not be available. He should return to training early next week,” Pressley said. “Mark Cullen is a bit behind [with his] fitness, so it’s going to take him a little bit of time, but we hope to get him involved in training next week.

"Macca [Gillesphey] returned to training but he is still lacking fitness.

“We have one or two that I don’t want to talk about that are doubts. They are big players for us but they are doubts this weekend. And of course, Mikey Jones is suspended this weekend.

"So, I’ll be honest with you, we have a number of challenges going into this weekend. But that’s why you have a squad.

“You need players to step up and grasp their opportunity. Kelvin missed out through the birth of his child three or four weeks ago and, all of a sudden, we saw a rejuvenated Mikey Jones.

"So, this is what you require. You need players to come in and be ready to play. That’s what might be required this weekend.”

When asked how doubtful these players were, Pressley added: “50/50 at this stage, definitely. There is concern.”

Dino Maamria’s men, like most teams in the league, have struggled for consistency but come into the clash on the back of a 2-0 victory at Grimsby last Saturday, courtesy of a Kurtis Guthrie brace.

With just five fixtures left in the regular League Two campaign, Pressley believes every match becomes a tough encounter at this stage in the season, with teams fighting for promotion and to avoid relegation at both ends of the table.

“Most teams are showing a real inconsistency at this time of year. So, they [Stevenage] very much fall into the bracket of every team just now,” Pressley said on their test against the Boro.

“There is nobody who has really shown absolute consistency, apart from probably Lincoln at the top.

"So, we go into every game, expecting a real challenge. I think, moving forward, it’s one of the things we have to improve on is that consistency. If you can show that consistency in this division, you have got a real chance.”

Despite Pressley saying ex-Newcastle man Gillesphey wasn’t yet able to start, he could look at including the 23-year-old in his matchday squad as he continues to step up his recovery.

He said: “Maybe on the bench, yeah, that would be in our thoughts. But he certainly is nowhere near ready to start as yet, in my opinion.”