Carlisle United have handed a professional deal to promising 16-year-old youth team defender Jarrad Branthwaite.

The big centre-half, from Wigton, has accepted the two-year senior terms which will keep him at Brunton Park until the summer of 2021.

The deal also has an option that could see it extended.

It comes after first-year youth player Branthwaite has trained with Steven Pressley's first-team squad.

The youngster follows fellow teenager Liam McCarron into the professional ranks ahead of the end of his youth deal.

Carlisle-born Branthwaite will continue with his scholarship programme, United said, but boss Pressley said securing the player's future was important business.

"He’s made a big impression on us with the way he’s conducted himself and we see him as a young boy who has big potential," Pressley told United's website.

"I use the word potential because that’s all it is at this moment in time.

“He’s a local lad who has been with the club since he was eight years old and, as I’ve said in the past, bringing through our own young players is a pivotal part in how I see this club moving forward.

“I feel it’s a really good bit of business and I’m delighted that he’ll be with us for the foreseeable future.”

Director of football David Holdsworth said deals such as this for academy players help United create their "own DNA and identity"

“It’s a method and ethos we feel is important for a club like ours because we feel it’s the best way forward," he said.

"The harsh reality is that if these players aren’t good enough, they won’t make it through. However, we’re now showing that if players do work hard, listen, and demonstrate their ability, they will get the rewards that go with it.”

Academy manager Darren Edmondson said it was "another good statement from the football club on the policy of continuing to bring our own players through."

He added: "Jarrad has been with us for such a long time and we’ll hopefully have others doing the same thing in the not too distant future.

“Things like this matter for the growth of the club. Jarrad is the next one to make it this far, and he’s done it by being consistent all the way through the age groups.

“All of the other scholars should see this is a huge plus. It shows the need to keep working really hard every single day, and to make sure you take the opportunity to impress when it comes along.

“Getting players like Liam [McCarron] and Jarrad through is a huge pat on the back to every coach that’s worked with him through the age groups.

"Signing this contract early will mean he’s emotionally and mentally in a very good place and we have to harness that to turn it into even more of a positive, not just for him, but for every player currently in our academy system.”