Carlisle have cast doubt on the likelihood of Mike Grella returning to Brunton Park after manager Greg Abbott claimed Leeds United were looking for other opportunities for the American striker.
The League One club appear to have ruled themselves out of a fresh deal for Leeds defender Lubomir Michalik, and Grella's immediate future is up in the air with Carlisle awaiting a response to their request to keep the 23-year-old.
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Grella and Michalik were on loan until the start of this month but both players have now returned to Thorp Arch.
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Abbott hoped to keep them in Cumbria and made his interest known to Leeds boss Simon Grayson ahead of the January transfer window.
Michalik is free to leave, having been on the transfer list since May, but Abbott admitted the Slovakian international's "really, really big wage" was likely to prevent an extended deal. Carlisle moved on Monday to sign another defender, Liam Cooper, on loan from Hull.
Grella, meanwhile, is part of Grayson's long-term plans but is currently fifth choice in United's list of strikers, and Leeds are expected to grant him permission to take up another temporary opportunity.
Abbott said: "Leeds probably think they can find the best possible deals for Lubo and Mike elsewhere, so we're waiting. I'm not too optimistic anything will happen in the next 10 days or so.
"In a perfect world Lubo would come in near the top wages for our group and we would sign him definitely. But I don't think we would get anywhere near the finance he is looking for. He's on a really, really big wage."
Michalik became one of United's highest earners when he joined the club from Bolton Wanderers in January of 2008 but he has been a peripheral part of their senior squad for almost 12 months.
His contract with Leeds expires at the end of this season and the club do not intend to offer him a new deal.
Grella, however, holds a long-term deal and United are keen to increase his experience in the English leagues.
Grayson planned to address the future of his on-loan players this week, with Oldham Athletic pushing to keep young left-back Aidan White.