Chris Beech says he is “working very hard” on lining up January transfer targets as he eyes a mid-season shake-up at Carlisle United.

The new Blues boss sent first-team coach Nathan Rooney on a scouting mission whilst United were drawing 1-1 with League Two’s bottom side Morecambe.

And Beech confirmed he was sizing up options ahead of the transfer window which could be crucial to improving third-bottom Carlisle’s prospects.

He said: “I’ve got to make sure I don’t get caught cold.

“I’ve got to make sure I’ve got options in terms of what will make us better, and I’m working very hard on that at the moment.”

United’s interest in new players comes as teenage defensive prospect Jarrad Branthwaite remains under heavy scrutiny from big clubs.

Arsenal, Leicester, Manchester City, Rangers and Celtic were among the clubs who dispatched scouts to the Globe Arena, where 17-year-old Branthwaite featured in a holding midfield role.

His future, and that of other players on the Blues’ books, will come under the microscope.

Beech added: “We’ve got five loan players [the maximum you can have in a matchday squad], we’ve got Gethin Jones’s contract up [soon], and I think there will be possibly some movement in some of our players.”

On Rooney’s absence from the dugout on Saturday, Beech said: “He’s doing a bit of work for us – he’s gone to have a look at somebody. We’ve got to get ourselves ready for January.”

Of Branthwaite, meanwhile, Beech said the speculation, and close attention from other clubs, was a challenge for the young player.

The Wigton teenager came back into the side after missing the previous game with illness.

Asked how hard he expected it to be to retain Branthwaite, head coach Beech said: “I don’t think it’s my job, I think it’s the club’s – they’ve got to do what’s best for everybody and everything.

“We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

“It’s very difficult for him to deal with that as a player, but at the same time…I had the choice, I could bring him back in the squad and sit him on the bench, or get him back on the pitch. I wanted him on the pitch.”

Beech said he had used Branthwaite in a midfield role at the expense of Canice Carroll because of his passing ability.

He also said the youngster was better than other young players Beech has worked with, who have since reached the top flight.

Beech said: “Canice is excellent, and I gave him good accolades after the game last Saturday. It’s hard to make decisions like that but I’m doing it for the benefit of the team and for all of us to try and move forward.

“I spoke to Canice at length in the week, and I want him to try and get forward more, to get into the box more, to score more goals for us.

“I felt Jarrad has the ability to pass and switch play. We didn’t use him enough. But he won all his headers, did an immense, strong tackle in the first half, and was excellent in terms of having a go at what he was trying to achieve.

“I think it would have been wrong to swap last week’s centre-half partnership. I want to build, I don’t want to dismantle.

“Jarrad, I’ve seen him now for about 10 days, and I’ve coached a lot of very good young players, but he is excellent. I had Dale Stephens at 17, he plays Premier League football for Brighton now, and he [Branthwaite] is definitely better than Dale at the same age.”

United’s draw saw Hallam Hope open the scoring before ex-Blues man John O’Sullivan levelled a minute later. Carlisle remain five points above the rock-bottom Shrimps despite slipping a place to 22nd, with one win in nine league games.

Beech added: “I was very pleased with the structure of the team, the effort of the lads was good, but the actual technicality within the match, we need to get better – at passing the football, moving the ball.

“When we do that, we look very good.

“There was no pressure whatsoever on Morecambe. They’re bottom of the league. They can’t go anywhere else than up. The pressure is on us to make sure we don’t get beat and I’m pleased we didn’t.”

Beech praised Hope’s goal, which came courtesy of a fine Nathan Thomas pass, but cursed United’s inability to hold a lead for more than a few minutes for the second weekend running.

“I’d like to get over five minutes of actually being in front in a game,” he said.

Beech added that Carlisle should have had a penalty in the dying seconds when Gethin Jones appeared to be tripped by Luke Conlan.

The Blues boss added: “Nathan talked about it in the changing room, about getting the little drops, things that happen more for us – it will come with continued consistent disciplines.

“For Morecambe’s goal, the lads are adamant the Morecambe player kicked it out and it should be our throw. The chap [Aaron Wildig] who tries to shoot, it comes off his shin and goes straight to the back post to John [O’Sullivan].

“What can I say. Sometimes that’s League Two football. The lads keep getting knocked but they keep coming back at it.

“From my perspective, not knowing them that long, that’s a good thing.”