David Holdsworth says more contract offers are being tabled at Carlisle United – and the Blues are aiming for a less dramatic squad overhaul this summer.

While the Cumbrians are still hoping to keep this season’s play-off hopes alive, United are also planning ahead for the 2021/22 campaign.

The Cumbrians this week confirmed they had exercised options in the contracts of four players, with Jack Armer, Joe Riley, Taylor Charters and Josh Dixon all secured for next season.

Director of football Holdsworth said more developments on the contract front would emerge from Brunton Park soon.

“We’ve done a lot of good work in the last few days in extending players’ contracts,” he said today, shortly before United also announced extended deals for Aaron Hayden and Lewis Alessandra.

“There’s going to be offers coming out in the next few weeks of extensions of contracts we’ve already got in place. We want to tie those players down.

“There’ll be more developments on that in the next two or three weeks, I would say.

“The key to it is, the hard work I did last year is being seen now.

“I knew already where we could be with those [four] boys, and there’s going to be a few more to follow in the next few days and weeks.

“It will be clearer after knowing what games we’ve won and whether we go into the last game of the season potentially knowing whether we can make [the play-offs] or, the worst case scenario, we don’t quite make it.

“The hard work I did last year is coming out now and I’m very pleased with the business we’re doing.”

United have a number of players whose deals expire this year but who also have options the club could activate.

It is hoped that will lead to a calmer summer in the market than last year’s massive squad overhaul.

“This has been designed last year so that we didn’t have to have a massive turnover which clubs sometimes incur,” Holdsworth added.

“We’ve got a number of players we are exercising options on. We have nine, I believe, including Lewi Bell, [already] retained.

“There’s probably 15 per cent turnover, maybe slightly more or slightly less, but I’m in a good place with those situations.

“There are five further players who are out of contract by their own choice that they didn’t have an option.

“It’s great that you have continuity. I’m trying to provide that. Agents come into the play, and an agent who’s got a player who’s got an option doesn’t like it because he doesn’t get any money out of it.

“Whilst we recruited so well, in terms of our finances and our housekeeping, it’s slightly easier but we want to improve everything and we’ll see what we can get in terms of retaining – but also we will want a few fresh faces.”

Holdsworth believes the progress of some of the young players in the Blues’ ranks is something the club can maximise.

He said: “I think we’ve got three, four, maybe five of some of the best youngsters in the UK. We’ve got two extremely good young goalkeepers coming through, a centre-forward in our youth team [Sam Fishburn] that’s scored the most goals in the UK and is gonna be one for the future.

“Lewi Bell’s had a tough time [with Covid] but I believe we’ve got some very good youngsters coming through and hopefully that’s some good news the fans will enjoy.

“Morgan Feeney is coming back now, he’s fit. Jack Armer…they’ve done great. We’re all in hand and have done our business quietly and privately.”

Holdsworth also insisted Carlisle would not allow any of their current squad to leave on the cheap, should any interest in them materialise.

He added: “If a bid comes in for the best scoring midfield player in the league [15-goal Jon Mellish], he won’t be able to walk out of the door cheaply.

“Jon’s still growing, still improving, and he can improve in his technical skills, but what he’s done is absolutely magic.

“He’s almost like Paul Mullin at Cambridge. He scored seven goals last year and clubs turned him down. He’s gone on to score [31] this year and what a season he’s had.

“We should protect our club and that’s all done with our situations. If someone comes in for one of them they won’t be walking out of here cheaply.

“I don’t give up on keeping them. With an agent on board it’s a different scenario because agents haven’t earned a lot of money this year and they’re trying to recoup that.

“They’re eager to get some money in their pockets, but we won’t give up our players cheaply.”

Holdsworth did not comment on the level of budget he anticipates United will take into next season.

He added: “What I will say is I am aware of where we are and the rug’s not being pulled from our feet, I will put it that way.

“If someone comes and gives me a gift card with a few pounds on it, we’ll spend it but we won’t spend it unwisely.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know where the money is in this league, but I get bored of hearing about budgets.

“If people want to throw millions of pounds year after year that’s up to them. That’s not up to us. We have to do our job diligently, good housekeeping is key, being strong in our beliefs and options.”

Regarding next season’s squad, Holdsworth said it was “very unlikely” Rotherham’s Joshua Kayode would return for a third spell with the Blues.

He said: “We’re doing a lot of work behind the scenes in looking at other players. Will we keep Kayode – very unlikely.

“The boy’s brilliant for us, a great kid, he’s just signed a new deal at Rotherham and they will look at his place. We have to be mindful we have players that will go back to their parent clubs. So will Ethan Walker.”

In terms of evolving the squad, and the argument made by some fans that United need more leaders in their ranks, Holdsworth said that and all other possibilities would be discussed with boss Chris Beech.

“I’m sure Chris would have learned a great deal this year,” he added.

“He’ll have learned a lot about certain players, about the growth of Jack Armer, Joe Riley, two boys I met in a field over 13 months ago, who were being released, didn’t know where their future was, and all of a sudden we’ve got two good young players there.

“George Tanner is in his first full season. George has been indifferent in his form recently by his own standards, but will he have learned from this? 100 per cent.

“Josh Dixon, Taylor Charters. Morgan Feeney. Lewi Bell. Fishburn…we’ve got an abundance of young players.

“Leadership comes in many, many ways. We don’t have an Alan McCormack, a Vadaine Oliver, or someone who’s approach is slightly different.

“We’ve got Paul Farman who’s a really good leader.

“I guess people are [talking about] leadership by guidance on the pitch, someone to make that difference, to explain about certain aspects, of course.

“Sometimes you can’t have it all but I do feel the manager will have learned this year and when we sit down or have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine at the appropriate time, we can ask those questions.

“I certainly will be. We’ve had good conversations regarding going forward but this is a time when we’ve still got a lot to play for.

“We’re in the 10th round now and we want to be rolling our sleeves up and showing a bit of passion.”