Carlisle United captain Nick Anderton has turned down a new deal with the Blues - and signed for Bristol Rovers.

The left-back tonight announced on Twitter that he was leaving Brunton Park "for a new challenge".

And shortly afterwards he was confirmed as one of four new signings at Joey Barton's newly-relegated League Two side.

It ends the 25-year-old's season-and-a-half spell in Cumbria.

Anderton was one of six players to be offered a new contract by the Cumbrians at the end of the 2020/21 campaign.

But the ex-Blackpool, Accrington and Barrow man has instead headed to the Memorial Stadium on a two-year deal.

He was tonight unveiled by the Pirates along with fellow new boys Sam Finley, Paul Coutts and Mark Hughes.

Anderton, in his Twitter post, said: "I'm proud to have represented and captained Carlisle United over the past 12 months but it's time for a new challenge in my career.

"Thanks to the gaffer [Chris Beech], Gav [Skelton], CUFC staff and all the players.

"A special thanks to the fans for supporting us in what's been a crazy season.

"I wish you all the very best for the future."

Anderton made 54 appearances and scored four goals for Carlisle after joining in January 2020, when his performances helped the Cumbrians move away from relegation trouble.

He was appointed captain last summer by Beech, but lost his place in the second half of the season to the promising Jack Armer.

Anderton later returned to the side at centre-half for the closing games of the season.

Bristol Rovers boss Barton, whose side were relegated from the third tier last term, said he was pleased to have captured Anderton and the other three arrivals.

He said: “They are all lads that have predominantly played for northern clubs, so to attract them down south, it had to be a project that really excites them.

“We have been speaking to them about the ambition of the football club and the direction we want to move in.

"They have been shown around our new training ground, which is attractive to new players, but they can also sense the ambition that’s in the building.

“The four of them are certainly a foundation for a nucleus of a new team, alongside the existing players, as we start to build a platform to help us get promoted next season.

“We want people that aren’t going to be freaked out by some of the away grounds in the division and that have been promoted out of the league and have been part of title-winning sides."

Anderton's move will see him coached by another ex-Blue in Clint Hill, who is Barton's assistant.

Anderton is the first player to move on from Carlisle after being offered a new deal this summer.

Morgan Feeney has already signed new terms, while the futures of Rhys Bennett, Omari Patrick, Paul Farman and Offrande Zanzala have yet to be resolved.

Carlisle have not yet commented on Anderton's departure.

The defender himself, speaking to Bristol Rovers' official channels, said he was keen to join the club after speaking to Barton about his plans.

He said it had been a "pleasure" to be captain of the Blues and also valued the community aspect of being a player.