Rod McDonald should make a quick return to contention for Carlisle United – but Connor Malley is set for a few weeks out.

Defender McDonald suffered a groin injury in training which ruled him out of the Blues’ 3-0 win at Crawley.

The centre-half has been a regular at the back since his summer move but Rhys Bennett took his place in Sussex.

United boss Chris Beech said: “Rod is frustrated but we’re confident his injury isn’t that bad.

“He tweaked his groin after his first kick in training on Thursday. We warmed up well and did the usual agility work before we went into small-sided games, and he played a pass down the line and felt his groin.

“We’re training on a heavy training pitch but that isn’t an excuse because we’ve trained on it when it’s been heavier.

“It’s nobody’s fault, but we can’t get onto the 4G at Penrith because of coronavirus. I still want us to train properly, because I think if we start changing what we’re doing it might change who we are, and I don’t want that.”

Middlesbrough loan midfielder Malley, meanwhile, is recovering from the foot injury he suffered against Aston Villa’s Under-21s in the Papa John’s Trophy.

Beech said: “It’s not brilliant but not dead bad.

“He’s had stitches in his foot, it’s swollen, but he has got a slight crack in there.

“It’s not a metatarsal, the modern Beckham injury, but it’s a bone, so he can play as soon as he’s pain free.

“He doesn’t have to put a [protective] boot on – it might be three weeks, or could be four, depends how tough he is.”

Beech, meanwhile, said the rigours of travelling back from South Africa after two international games meant Dean Furman was not included in Saturday’s squad.

The midfielder could rejoin the squad for Tuesday’s trip to Tranmere.

Beech said: “Dean has just travelled halfway round the world to play two games and play well.

“There’s no injury or anything, it was just a case of him having a long week.”