Carlisle United have been handed a boost ahead of their home match against Swindon with forward Hallam Hope having triggered a contract extension which keeps him with the Blues next season.

With the news announced at tonight's fans’ forum, it means the 24-year-old joins midfielder Kelvin Etuhu as the second player to have activated an extension this term.

“Hallam has had a very good season so far and he’s very well suited to the role he’s employed in," manager Steven Pressley said.

"He’s made a big impression on me in the short time I’ve been here. He’s very professional and a very good character, and he’s the type of player who we want to be part of the future at this club.

"He likes to score goals and we think he’s got more of that in him. He’s a player who is at a great age and all I can see is improvement, because he works extremely hard in training. That transfers itself into games, as we’ve all seen, because he never hides away and he gives everything for his team-mates.

"I’m delighted that this is done because he’s the type of player I want to work with."

Hope, who has scored 11 goals in his 32 appearances this term, added on United's website: “I’m delighted the club have triggered my one-year option and, with this being done now, it means I can concentrate on my football with 11 massive games to go.

“We’re all working hard to make it a successful outcome come May.

“The fans have been superb with me over the past few years and I want to be part of a successful team so that I can thank them for the support they’ve given me."

Elsewhere at the fans’ forum, Pressley promised Carlisle would have the fittest squad in the league next campaign - if his half-season deal is extended at the end of the campaign.

He also hailed the leadership of centre-back Anthony Gerrard, but insists he feels the 33-yearold is good enough to play in the Championship.

Pressley said: “He is a unique player. He reads the game really well. He is a throwback, I would use that term. He is a crucial part of the team in terms of his leadership.

"But I actually think Anthony Gerrard can play Championship football. My job is to maximise the resource. I think I can make him far better than he is now.”

Pressley also revealed Carlisle had been offered a reserve friendly against one of his former clubs, Rangers, but added that the timing didn’t suit his team.

Director of football David Holdsworth, meanwhile, explained the reasoning behind the decision to allow Richie Bennett to leave on loan for league rivals Morecambe while Preston frontman Connor Simpson was brought in on another loan deal.

He said: "Richie was not having a great time up here and he wanted to play first-team football."

On Simpson, meanwhile, Holdsworth added: "He was brought in on a very small wage.

"We actually beat three or four clubs to his signature. It reduced the wage budget significantly but Richie remains under contract."

Meanwhile Simon Clarkson, chairman of Carlisle’s Supporters’ Group, confirmed there are plans in place to hold an evening with Jimmy Glass on March 26.

It comes with the 20th anniversary of legendary keeper Glass’ goal coming up in May.

Pressley also said he feels "there are a couple of diamonds" in United's youth team.