Chris Beech says Carlisle United must consistently produce more youth players who are good enough for first-team football.

The head coach has used a number of home-grown teenagers in his squad already this season.

But Beech says that in part is because of the size of his senior squad.

He says opportunities for those in the under-18 set-up will not be as plentiful in the future – unless they prove to be good enough.

As well as sought-after Jarrad Branthwaite, Beech has named the likes of Taylor Charters, Charlie Birch and Liam Lightfoot in his squads recently.

Charters made his second senior appearance as a sub at Cardiff last weekend and the west Cumbrian midfielder could again be on the bench for Plymouth’s visit this Saturday.

Beech said: “He [Charters] is doing well.

“I’ve challenged the players within the youth system to meet higher standards.

“They are Carlisle people in the youth team. We’ve got to constantly try and get three or four players through that youth system that aren’t just…an easy option, because they need to earn their stripes and the right to get in the first team.

“The opportunity is here at the moment perhaps because of a lull in numbers.

“In future, when the squad is stronger, they’ll have to work harder for those opportunities.”

He added: “The challenge to the youth system is to develop, maybe keep, maybe sell, definitely be able to replace, and have that sort of model I had at my previous club [Rochdale] and the one we faced in our last league game [Crewe].”

Beech will hope to have Branthwaite available for the Plymouth game after the 17-year-old missed Carlisle’s last three fixtures with a thigh injury.

Transfer speculation continues to surround the Wigton centre-half.

Mo Sagaf (ankle) will also hope to make a quick return as Beech prepares for another key period for his team.

United will be hoping to consolidate their survival push on Saturday – they are seven points above bottom place – before next week’s FA Cup Third Round replay against Cardiff.

Beech spoke to TalkSport this week and played down fears that a cup run could prove a distraction to Carlisle’s important league task.

He said: “It never did us any harm when I worked at Rochdale; over four years we had really exciting cup runs, taking some big clubs to the 12th round…

“I’m hopeful but also mindful. Neil [Harris, Cardiff’s manager] is new to his job, he respects us but he will be trying his best to beat us at Carlisle.

“It’s an exciting opportunity and challenge for everybody. It gives us a bit extra zest and it can help and support our league campaign.”