Chris Beech says he is still “spinning plates” as he bids to get more signings over the line in order to boost Carlisle United’s season.

The head coach, whose side are back at Brunton Park this weekend to face Plymouth, believes he is “very close” to a second January addition.

Beech said he was “excited” by some of the players he is targeting but would not be drawn on when any deal might be concluded.

Ideally the Blues would like to add to their squad before the Argyle clash but the clock is ticking for them to have any new faces in time to face Ryan Lowe’s side.

Beech, who could on Saturday hand a home debut to his sole January signing so far, Elliot Watt, said: “It’s almost like being in the circus, spinning plates. Until you get to a point of any sort of resolution or fact, that’s what it is at the moment.

“I’d say [something is] very close, but I can’t control those conversations – finance, agents, other clubs, the player themselves in terms of what they’re looking for in length of contract, etc.

“It’s not just as simple as saying, ‘I like you, you’re good for us, let’s crack on’; there’s a lot of different anomalies involved.

“I am confident that something will happen but at the same time I can’t factually state that I’m definitely signing somebody today. I’m quite excited about some incomings but at the same time that plate hasn’t dropped yet.”

The Blues have been speaking to a number of players, with striker one position they would like to strengthen.

Beech added that he was “very confident” Gethin Jones would remain with Carlisle, the defender’s short-term deal due to expire soon.

He did not comment specifically on any potential departures from the squad - after his press conference it was announced that young striker Keighran Kerr was joining Kendal Town on loan until the end of the season - but challenged any out-of-favour player to make the strongest case possible to be playing first-team football.

He said: “Nobody who’s got anything about them doesn’t actually want to play football.

“The players themselves, and not necessarily [just] the ones on loan, whoever’s in the squad, I want them to have a really good, strong attitude to want to play, do their best, represent themselves which in turn represents our supporters.”

Beech hopes Jarrad Branthwaite can return to training tomorrow with the young defender close to returning from a thigh injury.

Mo Sagaf has been running as he recovers from an ankle problem, and could also train tomorrow, while Christie Elliott is back in the reckoning after a chest infection and trained today.

Beech said he had no further information on Branthwaite’s future, amid continued transfer speculation, while he added that building the size of squad he would ideally like at Brunton Park will not be a short-term matter.

The head coach said: “It would be great to have two players for each position, fighting it out to make sure they’re wearing the matchday shirt. As a manager you’re then in a position of strength.

“We’re not in that current position. That will take time, probably three or four transfer windows to get to that point.

“We are working very hard, and very diligently on every sort of avenue we can try and help support Carlisle United moving forwards.”

United are hoping to build on their positive display at Cardiff last weekend when they face Ryan Lowe’s sixth-placed Pilgrims.

It promises to be a defining five-day period at Brunton Park, with Carlisle out to boost their League Two survival chances on Saturday and then take on Cardiff in Wednesday’s replay for the right to play either Reading or Blackpool in the FA Cup Fourth Round.

Asked how to translate last Saturday’s cup display into league consistency, Beech said: “You’ve just got to just approach each game individually, look at your opponent, the strengths of your own team and try and utilise them.

“I’ve been really pleased with the nine games we’ve had, [only] the two defeats, but of course we want to win more football matches, and if I’m being brutally honest I was disappointed we didn’t win, even though it’s Cardiff City.

“We’ve got another opportunity against them, and a massive league game in front of us before we get to that point.”