EASTLEIGH are steeling themselves for the departure of on-loan centre back Callum Howe.

The 23-year-old is wanted back by his League Two parent club Lincoln City, who have seen the departure of two central defenders, Sean Raggett and Rob Dickie, over the last week.

Under the terms of his loan, Howe cannot rejoin Danny Cowley’s Imps until January 15.

His last game for Eastleigh will be the rearranged Vanarama National League fixture at Torquay United on Saturday.

Howe has made a big impression at the Silverlake Stadium where he has been made captain and scored in the last two games against Woking and Guiseley.

Lincoln boss Cowley said: “We look forward to Callum coming back on the 15th.

“We agreed a deal with Eastleigh (in August), there was a loan fee involved and it was good for us financially, so we made that decision.

“He will have grown as a player.

“We’ve watched a lot of his games at Eastleigh and it's nice to see him in and around the goals recently as well.

“He’s a top player and a great kid and we look forward to having him back in the building.

“It was important that when he went out, he played games.

“When they're young players and still developing, you can't starve them of football. If you do, you get in the way of their progression and we never want to do that.”

Howe has proved a huge help to Eastleigh at a time when two of their best centre-backs, Reda Johnson and Ryan Cresswel,l have been battling long-term injury.

Cresswell has been making positive strides in training and is believed to be on the brink of a comeback.