Chris Beech says he agrees with his predecessor Steven Pressley’s glowing comments about Jarrad Branthwaite.

Pressley this week urged Old Firm giants Rangers and Celtic to pay whatever it takes to sign the young Carlisle defender this month because he was a future England player.

Beech said: “I think what he said is right – he has got the potential to play higher, there’s no question about that.”

The 17-year-old Branthwaite, the subject of strong transfer speculation, is close to returning from a thigh injury.

Beech added: “He’s representing his city where he’s been brought up very well in his early years as a young player for Carlisle United.

“You want your best players to stay and progress, and I’ve been a little bit disappointed that he’s not been available for every game that I’ve taken, but I’ve been really pleased with how the other players have picked that up.”