Since the turn of the year, the closest they have got to an away game is watching it on a screen like the rest of Carlisle United’s supporters.

But from this weekend, BBC Radio Cumbria’s Blues commentary team of James Phillips and Chris Lumsdon will be back where they belong.

The duo will be in the press box at Southend’s Roots Hall to cover United’s game tomorrow.

It follows three months of reporting on away matches from the office, after the BBC asked its local radio teams not to travel out of their county areas for safety reasons during the latest Covid-19 lockdown.

James says commentating from the office has been a unique challenge – and he and ex-Blues midfielder Lumsdon are thrilled to be back on the road now the BBC have responded to the gradual easing of lockdown by allowing their local teams to travel again.

“To be able to go to the games, to be able to do our jobs fully again…I’ve missed it dearly,” James said.

"Travelling to away games, visiting different places and grounds, is my favourite part of the job.

“And I’m really looking forward to being back in a stadium again to get a proper view of what’s going on.”

Although the commentary team have still been able to cover United home games in the normal way at Brunton Park, it has been a different matter for away matches.

The last United away game Phillips and Lumsdon covered from the actual stadium was December 29’s match at Harrogate Town, which lasted eight minutes before a frozen pitch caused it to be abandoned.

Since then, the Blues’ next seven away encounters – with Walsall, Harrogate (rearranged), Salford, Colchester, Morecambe, Mansfield and Stevenage – have seen Phillips and Lumsdon reliant on live streaming footage in order to broadcast from BBC Radio Cumbria’s Carlisle studios, as the station tweeted below in early January:

The same away-game rules have applied to Radio Cumbria's Barrow AFC correspondent Adam Johnson over the last three months.

“It’s certainly been challenging in the sense that, with respect to the camera people, they aren’t always looking where me and Chris want to look,” James said of office-based commentaries.

“In one game, the goalkeeper was waiting to take a kick as three subs were preparing to come on, but the camera never moved off the goalkeeper for a minute and a half, which felt like forever.

“I felt like I knew that goalkeeper more intimately than his family by the time things got going again…

“At Walsall, Brennan Dickenson made his debut – but we didn’t know he had come on. Suddenly he was on the pitch and it was a case of ‘Who’s number 16?’

“Yes, you do your research, but nor do you have a team sheet in that situation and if you don’t see what’s happening, it can take a little time to catch up.

“Then there was the fog at Colchester – the floodlights whited out half the pitch and we couldn’t make out much of what was going on at either end. That was interesting…”

James, meanwhile, is more than happy that normal service resumes with one of United's longest journeys of the season this weekend – a 650-mile round trip to Essex.

“Only by being at a game do you fully get a feel for it, for the mood of the manager and coaching staff, how players are interacting, and so on," he added.

“Interviewing managers in person, as opposed to on the phone when you’ve not seen the game fully, is also far better.

“It’s harder to hold Chris Beech to account when you haven’t really seen 50 per cent of how his team’s played.

“So for that and many other reasons I really can’t wait to be at Southend and all the other away grounds over the rest of the season.”

Kick-off at Southend tomorrow is 1pm.