Keith Curle has maintained that there is more transfer business still to be done at Carlisle United with the new season only three weeks away.

The Blues manager remains keen to add to his eight summer signings with the big kick-off at Portsmouth looming ever closer.

Curle has given many of his players a four-day break after the first part of pre-season, as United are without a friendly tomorrow.

They are due to return to the training ground next Tuesday to step up preparations for their next set of games, starting at Barrow on Saturday week.

Curle is pleased with the work his players have put in since returning from the summer break, including four encounters with Queen of the South, Kendal, Workington and Warrington respectively, plus trainings camps at Cassius Camps near Windermere and Mottram Hall in Cheshire.

Curle says it is now the ideal time to allow his squad a breather before stepping things up again next week.

And he is prepared to be patient in order to add further depth to a squad he already feels can now boast a range of options.

Newcastle defender Macaulay Gillesphey remains a loan possibility, and Curle - who also wants another striker and goalkeeper - suggested his current targets are on the books of clubs rather than being free agents.

Curle said: "We're still looking and we know there's still room for improvement.

"We've identified targets we'd like to bring into the club, as and when other clubs deem it that they won't be required.

"We are talking about players who are affiliated to other clubs, players who are still being given an opportunity to impress at their clubs. That is what pre-season is about and it is not going to be a case of a knee-jerk reaction with a signing."

United's chances of re-signing right-back Alex McQueen appear to have receded, with Curle saying he believes the former Tottenham man is training with another club.

Curle stressed that United will be able to seek compensation if the 21-year-old does opt to continue his career elsewhere.

The Blues boss has said he wants an "official answer" from McQueen on United's own contract offer but did not criticise McQueen for keeping his options open so far into pre-season.

Curle said: "We're well aware of it. I've been in the game long enough to know it goes on. Every young player has every right to keep his options open and ply his trade elsewhere, if he is able to get a contract at a higher division. It's not personal - it's purely professional."

The Carlisle boss intends to use a slightly smaller squad this season, having ended the previous campaign with about 27 professionals on the books.

Curle said: "It's testament to the club that we were able to do our business early, whereby previously it's been a mad scurry come the end of the season, thinking about what's left out there.

"We identified early that we wanted to get our business done and got the backing from the club to do that.

"It means we're just looking to fine-tune now. We are also very pleased with the results we had with our injury, strength and conditioning work. We have been able to get more players fitter for longer, which hopefully helps us operate with a smaller squad."