Carlisle United are closing in on their fifth summer signing with a new midfielder looking set to join the Blues.

The Cumbrians are in advanced talks with an attacking midfielder and are likely to conclude a deal later this week.

United are chasing much-needed reinforcements ahead of next week’s return to pre-season training and are also in talks with two experienced centre-half targets.

The Blues, meanwhile, have identified at least two loan strikers who they believe they have a strong chance of landing next month.

On this week’s midfield target, director of football David Holdsworth said: “We are 99 per cent sure that we have done a deal that is to be concluded on Wednesday evening, and the player will hopefully be announced on Thursday.”

On other positions, he added: “Centre-half is an area we have identified. After bringing in Jon Mellish earlier in the summer, we are in talks at the moment with two League One, ex-Championship players.

“I am hopeful one of them will be secured. The other has alternative options.” It is believed location is the potential hurdle United may have to clear with the latter.

Holdsworth also said Carlisle have made offers to a winger and a striker.

Similar to last year, meanwhike, the Blues also intend to make use of the loan market and are likely to sign the maximum – five – that they can include in a matchday squad next season.

Holdsworth said they have made inroads with targets.

“We have got one secured already, and he will come through the door from what is now a Premier League club,” he said.

“We are hopeful that will be done, and there are one or two [others] we’ve got first choice on.

“We’d like them to be season-long loans, so they are not jumping ship or going back [in the middle of the season].

“That is sometimes the hard part [when securing these deals]. But we must recognise the loan system can be used to your benefit financially.”

On the loan front, Holdsworth also confirmed the club have approached both Aston Villa and Sheffield United about possible returns for last year’s loanees Callum O’Hare and Nathan Thomas.

Both spent the second half of last season at Brunton Park. Thomas is available for a move from the newly-promoted Blades, while O’Hare’s availability could depend on whether fellow top-flight arrivals Villa want to loan him to League One or Two.

Holdsworth said: “Nathan we would certainly enjoy bringing back to Brunton Park. He fitted in here well and we recognised his ability with us.

“If Callum goes to League One we will wish him well, but if he does come to League Two we feel this is a place where he enjoyed his football.”

It is less clear whether the Blues will pursue a second stint for Thomas’ Blades team-mate Regan Slater, meanwhile.

The signs are that United could do four more permanent deals and then add five loanees as they build their numbers for the new campaign.

They will also run the rule over trialists in pre-season.

Manager Steven Pressley is understood not to be panicking about the shortage of bodies as things stand, with talks continuing with targets.

On the chase of new faces, Holdsworth added: “Agents are playing a huge role this summer – they are becoming more influential on their players.

“I won’t say it’s just for money but it seems that way at times. There’s a lot of good agents out there but also some are more interested in what they’re getting rather than the player’s future.

“We’re mindful of players coming for the right reasons. We’ve missed out on one or two, through being outpriced, simple as that. We’re talking about value for money and they have to want to be here for the right reasons.

“Things might change with those players. The market is extremely slow, people are away on holiday.

“But we have offers on the table, which we’re waiting on. And we have other people, if those don’t come through. We’ll explore other avenues.”

The squad are due to report in for fitness testing this Thursday, overseen by strength and conditioning coach David Waldie, ahead of the return for pre-season a week later.

Holdsworth said: “Every player was given dietary requirements and levels to come back at.

“If they are not at the levels required, they will do another three days’ training before the others come back.

“It is going to be strict and very professional. David has been brilliant and is a good asset for us.”

Jamie Devitt, meanwhile, is understood to be close to joining Blackpool.