Paul Simpson admits it’s a bittersweet feeling to see Joshua Kayode finally back in action for Carlisle United.

The Blues boss is delighted the loan striker is at last fit and available for action.

But Simpson, who introduced Kayode as a substitute in the 1-0 win at Cheltenham Town on Tuesday, admits it’s coupled with a feeling of what might have been.

The 23-year-old’s outing at the Completely-Suzuki Stadium was his first for seven months with injuries ruling him out of almost all United’s futile bid to remain in League One.

“I’m pleased with him. He’s obviously rusty – it’s seven months, I’m told, to the day that he got injured – so he’s had a tough time,” said Simpson of the Rotherham United man.

“We’ve all had a tough time, we’ve all had to be patient, but we’ve looked after him as well as we possibly could. I’m delighted for him that he’s got fit.

“I’m [also] a little bit disappointed and annoyed because I see what him and Georgie Kelly have brought to it, it just makes me wonder what could have been.

“There’s no guarantee they would have made it better but I can’t see they’d have made us worse.”

Kayode’s cameo came towards the end of a third loan spell with United which has been dogged by injuries.

He suffered a shoulder injury soon after joining on last summer’s deadline day, then a calf problem dashed the big striker’s hopes of a winter comeback.

While Kayode makes a belated comeback, February’s deadline day signing Kelly is also having a late impression on United’s team having overcome a calf injury.

News and Star: Georgie KellyGeorgie Kelly (Image: Richard Parkes)

He has been paired with record signing Luke Armstrong in the last two outings, and has now made four appearances having missed out on plenty of action since he joined from Rotherham.

“They’re a real threat, the pair of them,” added Simpson.

“I’m excited about the future with those two. The challenge is keeping them both fit.”