It is a race that is going down to the wire as clubs battle for the two promotion places the National League.

And there are a number of former Carlisle United players in the mix as teams fight it out to join the Blues in League Two.

Non-league’s top tier is entering its closing stages and soon the Cumbrians will know the identity of the promoted sides they will face next season.

In a number of cases there is scope for a Brunton Park reunion.

The table is currently being led by Sutton United, who are eyeing an EFL place for the first time.

The south London club are in top spot by a point, with three games to go.

If they are to claim the title and the National League’s automatic promotion place, they will do so with an ex-Carlisle man as their last line of defence.

It would be easy to forget Dean Bouzanis’s time in Cumbria, for the Australian keeper didn’t make a single appearance despite joining Carlisle in the 2013/14 season.

The former Liverpool and Oldham man signed for the Blues in the middle of their League One relegation campaign under Graham Kavanagh.

Bouzanis came on trial and was duly handed a contract at a time regular No1 Mark Gillespie was out injured and loanee Ben Amos had gone.

Greg Fleming was United’s other senior keeper but Bouzanis’s path was eventually blocked by another loan signing who played the last few months of the season: a certain Jordan Pickford.

Bouzanis left in April and went on to play in his native Australia, before coming back to England last summer to join Sutton.

The 30-year-old has made 39 appearances this season to help Matt Gray’s Gander Green Lane side get within sight of an historic promotion.

Their nearest contenders are Torquay in what is a two-horse race for the title.

The Gulls, managed by Gary Johnson, are hoping for a return to the EFL after a seven-year absence.

If that is the case it would mean a 733-mile round-trip added to Carlisle’s calendar for the 2021/22 League Two season.

Those in the chasing pack are set on claiming a top-seven place, and a chance of promotion via the six-team play-offs.

Well-heeled Stockport County are currently third and boast some ex-Carlisle links in their ranks.

The Hatters recently splashed out to sign Fleetwood Town’s ex-Blues striker Paddy Madden.

He has scored seven goals in 14 appearances since his January move.

Also in the Stockport ranks is former Blues striker Richie Bennett, recently back from a loan spell with Hartlepool.

And involved at Edgeley Park is ex-United star Matt Jansen, who is part of the club’s recruitment set-up.

Hartlepool, meanwhile, are fourth as they try to make their way back into the EFL after 2017’s relegation.

While Bennett’s goals gave them a boost recently, the Monkey Hangers also have the reliable figure of Gary Liddle in their side.

The vastly-experienced ex-Carlisle defender, who was with the Blues from 2017-19, has made 20 appearances for the Victoria Park club this season.

Seven points behind Pools in fifth are Notts County, who are pushing for play-off promotion after relegation two years ago.

And former Carlisle defender Mark Ellis has emerged as an unlikely goal hero for Ian Burchnall’s Magpies.

On loan from Tranmere, the ex-Blues centre-half has scored five goals in recent weeks to keep Notts in the running.

Sixth-placed Chesterfield also have a United link in the shape of midfielder Martin Smith, who was on loan at Brunton Park under Keith Curle in the 2015/16 season.

FC Halifax hold the last play-off place in seventh currently, with Micah Obiero – the Huddersfield forward who was on loan at Carlisle earlier this season – in their ranks.

He joined the Shaymen this year but has been restricted to just one appearance so far.

A point behind Halifax sit Bromley, whose hopes of a first-ever entry into the Football League rest in part on two of last season’s Blues.

In defence they have Byron Webster, while their midfield includes Jack Bridge.

Webster has chalked up 27 appearances and Bridge 26 to put the Ravens in with a shout.

Even ninth-placed Wrexham have a Carlisle connection in the shape of Kwame Thomas, the trialist striker who scored pre-season goals but did not earn a deal with the Blues in the summer of 2019.

He is Wrexham's top scorer but is currently sidelined with injury.

Outsiders Dagenham, six points outside the play-offs in 11th, include ex-Blues Angelo Balanta and Mo Sagaf.