Carlisle United offered rising teenage star Jarrad Branthwaite a new contract several weeks ago, it is understood.

The Blues tabled the fresh terms to the 17-year-old at a time he has become the subject of intense transfer speculation.

The Wigton youngster has been linked with a host of big clubs as the January transfer window approaches.

Liverpool and Chelsea were the latest clubs credited with an interest in the defender in national media reports on Sunday.

That followed strong speculation linking Branthwaite with Everton, while others such as Arsenal, Manchester City, Leicester, Rangers and Celtic are known to have scouted the promising player.

There is no indication yet of whether Branthwaite will put pen to paper on a fresh deal at Carlisle amid so much interest.

He is already under contract at the club until the summer of 2021, that deal including an option to extend.

A new offer may be United’s attempt to retain the youngster at a time many in the game expect Branthwaite to be sold next month.

There has so far been no confirmation from Brunton Park of any bids on the table, although the heavy interest in the Cumbrian teenager is no secret.

Earlier this month director of football David Holdsworth insisted there had not been any bids for Branthwaite and that the Blues had not struck any advance “deals or agreements” with another club over the centre-half.

Head coach Chris Beech again said after Sunday’s win at Walsall that he had “no knowledge” of any situation such as the rumour connecting Branthwaite to Everton.

Invited to comment yesterday, United did not talk specifically on Branthwaite’s situation. The club said, though, that they were making moves in various areas to ensure they were as strong as possible as they move forward.

A Blues spokesman said: “The club doesn’t ever discuss individual contract situations.

“But we can assure everybody that we are looking to build for the future, starting with the January transfer window and with the work that needs to be done this season.”

Holdsworth said on December 12 that the club were “fully aware” of the interest in Branthwaite, which was “unavoidable”, but that United were “delighted” he was on a long-term contract.

The defender, United’s record youngest scorer, missed the Walsall game with Beech saying he picked up a thigh injury in training the day before.

Branthwaite was at the Banks’s Stadium but was not involved as Carlisle secured a dramatic 2-1 win.

On the circumstances behind his injury, Beech said: “He came with us, Gav [Skelton] got us all organised, we gave them extra time off, and trained later [on Saturday] – I’m really pleased the club supported us staying over[night], because it’s vital we try and get rest.

“It wasn’t in the plans and budget to have an overnight stay at Walsall so I thank the chairman and club for that, it enables us to prepare even more professionally for effort and energy [in the game].

“We trained at Blackburn on the way down, and Jarrad pulled his thigh a little bit. He said he’s had it before as a scholar and it took about a week to clear up, so hopefully it will [be the same].”

Asked if Branthwaite was a doubt for tomorrow’s trip to Crewe, Beech said: “Yeah, but you know what these young lads are like. Jarrad wants to play football and sometimes they don’t really know their own bodies.”

In Branthwaite’s absence, Aaron Hayden returned to centre-half alongside Byron Webster in the Walsall victory.