Carlisle United forward Brennan Dickenson is back on the training ground – having returned from two weeks away because of Covid-19.

Blues boss Chris Beech said the summer signing contracted the virus recently and had to self-isolate.

Dickenson has been working his way back to fitness from a pre-season hamstring injury.

United’s head coach said the former Exeter and Colchester man’s recovery was put back because of the virus but he is now making good progress again.

He said he picked up the virus whilst away from Brunton Park.

Beech said: “Brennan went to St George’s Park for specific treatment for a week, and somehow picked the virus up.

“He had to stay at home for a couple of weeks; that put him back a couple of weeks.

“He’s back here now and doing really well.

“He was out on the grass the other day with Ross [Goodwin, United’s physio] doing some strange-looking exercises, but I’m sure they’re doing something for his hamstring.

“It’s nice to see him with his boots on.”

It is hoped Dickenson will return to availability this winter.

Beech says Dickenson’s period of self-isolation was another example of the need for clubs and players to act properly in the Covid-19 climate.

He said: “He had to do the right things the right way, as we all have. It’s very difficult.

“Rod McDonald missed out on Hayes & Yeading because he had a dry cough and high temperature, but didn’t have coronavirus.

“These things are what we’re trying to deal with as we progress.”

Beech, meanwhile, says loan midfielder Connor Malley will miss this weekend’s trip to Crawley after the foot injury he suffered in the Papa John’s Trophy against Aston Villa on Tuesday night.

The Middlesbrough man had to be replaced after 16 minutes and needed stitches.

He has since had an x-ray, and Beech was due to speak to Goodwin this morning for a detailed update on Malley but said: “It was an innocuous situation and it looks like he’s going to miss a few games.”

News and Star: Connor Malley will miss Saturday's game, Chris Beech says (photo: Barbara Abbott)Connor Malley will miss Saturday's game, Chris Beech says (photo: Barbara Abbott)

Beech, meanwhile, says he was pleased to welcome Josh Dixon back into the fold on Tuesday after two tough years out with cruciate knee ligament injuries.

He said the home-grown midfielder must now do all he can to build on his return.

Asked if Dixon still needed to be worked back into things gradually, Beech said: “Yes and no. Because he’s gone past his time when he’s meant to be ready, and struggled with niggles at points when we should have had him available earlier.

“If anything, I felt a little bit like I was holding a Carlisle baby – it was like, ‘don’t drop him Chris, he’s so precious’.

“When he was cramping up late in Tuesday’s game, people were telling me to get him off, look after him. But sometimes a bit of tough love helps in the right way too.

“I was so happy he stayed on the pitch and got through it, because he’s come through a different door now and his confidence from that will be bigger because of it.”

Beech plans to give Dixon another run-out in a reserve game against Fleetwood next Wednesday.

He added: “Near the end he was cramping up, the boys are winning 3-0, he takes a short free-kick and makes an overlapping sprinting run and crosses straight to the goalkeeper, who throws it out and we concede a goal.

“In terms of his physicality at that point, he was struggling. It’s a great learning curve, even though it’s his first game for a long time.

“Of course he’s show unbelievable character to get back, but now, as we walk through a new door, we have to progress his career, he has to progress it. We can’t live on sentiments of the past, he has to keep building.

“I saw him and Taylor Charters and talked about tactically where they should have been to make sure we keep a clean sheet.

“But he did unbelievably. Hopefully Josh can have a good, clear run at fitness because he’s got some lovely football attributes, and one thing he’ll get from us and me, [is work on] getting the ball back and competing – they’re very big elements of lower-league football, and the Premier League too, actually.

“His skill levels are high, and he has to make sure he competes and works hard to get the ball back.

“He showed those traits the other day which was the more pleasing point. We all know he’s got very good technical ability.”

Beech has also revaled why he included three first-year youth players among Tuesday night's substitutes.

Sam Fishburn, Josh Barnett and Max Kilsby were in the senior squad.

Beech said: "I like the centre-forward [Fishburn], because he’s completely raw and not been in any academy.

"In my 19-20 years as a coach, the three most successful over my career have been the least 'academy-ised' players. Dale Stephens ended up playing Premier League football after we signed him at Bury as a young player playing non league football at 15-16.

"Scott Hogan we signed at Rochdale from playing for Salford College. And Will Buckley was playing for Hopwood College.

"All those players, in terms of the highest levels of playing, they’re the least academy-ised.

"Fishburn, I’m quite excited about him but he’s got a long way to go. The other couple of players on the bench are ones Eric thought were doing well."