Keith Curle is hoping Carlisle United's cup exploits this season will help him make serious inroads in the transfer market.

The Blues boss is already eyeing the January window - and expects to have cash to spend.

That is as a result of United's progress in the FA Cup and Checkatrade Trophy which is boosting the Blues' coffers.

Curle, whose second-placed side host Exeter this weekend, hopes those proceeds are being "stacked" so he can strengthen his squad when the window opens in just over six weeks' time.

The United manager said: "Part of our budget at the beginning of the season was no return from cups.

"That is part of the business plan, so every game we play, and all revenue brought in, hopefully gets stacked for when we go shopping in January."

It is common for United to budget to exit the cups at the earliest possible stage, with any progress in the competitions then coming as a bonus to manager and club.

The cups were lucrative for the Blues last term with six-figure windfalls coming from ties against Liverpool and Everton in different competitions.

That did not, though, see United make many additions last January.

They are one game away from a potentially money-spinning third round tie in this season's FA Cup, having earned £30,500 from the competition so far and with a further £27,000 on offer if they win next month's second round game against League One side Rochdale.

The controversial Checkatrade Trophy, meanwhile, has earned the Blues £30,000 for winning their three group games, although this will be partly offset by the low crowds so far.

*United legend Les O'Neill has described midfielder Mike Jones as Carlisle's star signing of the season so far.

The former Oldham and Sheffield Wednesday man has become an influential figure in Curle's promotion-chasing team.

And 1970s favourite O'Neill, himself a former midfielder, has been impressed with the 29-year-old.

"I think he's a great signing," O'Neill told the News & Star. "If you mark him out of 10, you give him seven-and-a-half every week before he goes on the pitch, because you know what you're going to get.

"He knows the game. He's a very, very intelligent player. He sees danger before it happens. And the lad can play."