Rhys Bennett says a conversation with his dad helped to reassure him that staying with Carlisle United was the right decision.

News of the defender’s new deal has been greeted with joy by Blues fans, whose deluge of tweets and messages to Bennett in recent days was also a major factor.

The chance to help United to League Two promotion was a further reason why Bennett decided to remain at Brunton Park for the season.

And the 29-year-old said a chat with his father served to underline why he should turn down interest from higher-placed clubs and stick with Chris Beech’s United.

“I had this conversation with my dad, and we were speaking about what to do,” Bennett said.

“He said, ‘Look, where do you feel happiest?’

“I’ve always liked the manager and have a good relationship with him. [My dad] said, ‘Maybe the reason why you’re doing so well at the moment is because you’re happy’.

“I’ve been at other clubs where maybe you’re not the manager’s favourite…playing well, but you know that any bad performance and you’re out of the team – whereas now, I wouldn’t want to play bad, touch wood, but it’s only because I don’t want to let him [Beech] down.

“When you play like that and give up that self-preservation, and think about something bigger, I think that’s when you give your best performances.”

Bennett has been in commanding defensive form since joining Carlisle in November and today earned a League Two player of the month nomination.

The former Peterborough, Rochdale and Mansfield player, who joined on an initial two-month deal, said he had plenty to think about when weighing up his future for the second half of the campaign.

But he said the chance to be part of something special at table-topping United was something from which he could not walk away.

“It’s the opportunity to see something out,” he said. “I’ve had one promotion in my career so far and it would be special to get promoted with this club, this group of lads and this manager.

“It’s been a hard decision to make, I’m not gonna lie. Obviously I want to play as high as possible so when the opportunity came to play higher, you kind of want to see what is there.

“But the thing that swayed me is the love that I’ve been shown at this club, and the opportunity to be one of the main players in a promotion push.

“I came in two months ago and wanted to come and get some games in…but I think it’s been incredible since then and I can’t not stay to the end of the season.”

Bennett says he has been bowled over by the messages he has received from United’s supporters.

After Beech used post-match interviews on Saturday to urge fans to tweet their appreciation to centre-half amid contract discussions, the defender was besieged with messages.

“I got about 20 mentions in half a minute and it went from there,” Bennett said.

“I knew the gaffer was [gonna do something] but I didn’t know he was gonna do that!

“I had a meeting with him on Thursday. He said, ‘I will take you down Warwick Road and I will knock on people’s doors, so people can see how much it means, if they knew what the situation was’.

“When he then said that on Saturday…I think I’ve read every single message. I couldn’t respond until today, but it’s played a major part in my decision and I want to say thank you to everyone.

“All I can say is I’m incredibly grateful for the support the fans have shown me. And I hope we can get the fans back in before the end of the season.

“I don’t think I’ve had that before. It’s weird, I’ve only been here two months and I did not expect that in the slightest. It’s humbling if I’m honest.”

Bennett, who has a close relationship with Beech dating back to their time at Rochdale, said the way things have gone since he joined Carlisle has exceeded his expectations.

And he underlined his understanding with Beech, along with the overwhelming positivity at Carlisle currently, as a key reason for that.

“He [Beech] said, ‘You’re not going to get many opportunities at places where you have that feeling’,” Bennett said. “I want to embrace it and pay everybody back for it.

“In football you have to be resilient and fight against the status quo, coming to a new club, making sure the manager thinks you’re a good player…but it’s been quite natural here.

“I’ve just come in and tried to work hard. I have a manager that loves me, he’s seen me play before and that helps.

“The thing I’ve really enjoyed is just being able to play football every week. I know there’s no fans there at the moment but I’m feeling the love from the fans. I just want to play every single week, or twice a week if I can – football’s my life and it’s what I want to do.”

Bennett said the unity in the United dressing room should not be underestimated.

“It’s one of the most important things,” he added. “You’re coming into work every single day and you’re excited about coming in. Excited to play football with your mates. And you know when it comes to a Saturday you’re ready to go to war and fight for each other.

“I knew I only had a two-month contract[to start with] and it was a case of, ‘Do I really get involved? I don’t know what’s gonna happen…’ - but I feel a massive part of it.

“The camaraderie, the way we are with each other, you can see it on the pitch and it only bodes well for the future.”

Bennett played down his player of the month nomination, adding: “If I’m honest, I don’t really care about individual awards. It’s nice [to be] someone who’s team is recognised rather than just me being recognised. I want us to be recognised every single month from now until the end of the season.”

United, meanwhile, will look to strengthen their high-flying status this weekend when Leyton Orient visit Brunton Park.

“We’re just enjoying playing our football,” Bennett added. “There are a lot of teams with higher budgets than us – I know that myself – but we’re just enjoying our football and seeing what happens.

“I think that what separates the people who can get promoted from this league from those who don’t is consistency. We’ve shown at times this season we can beat the best teams in this league.

“We just need to be a bit more consistent. No-one’s running away with this league, so why can’t it be us?”