Callum Guy is entitled to reflect on a season well done but it is encouraging to hear him looking forward, thinking bigger. Carlisle United’s player of the season leaves 2020/21 with plenty of personal silverware for his shelves, but greater accolades hopefully lie ahead.

“I think I can achieve loads more,” he says. “We finished 10th this season, which is an improvement on last year, but next year we want to be going one further into, minimum, play-offs. That’s what we’ll be aiming for.”

It is the sort of clear statement of ambition supporters like to hear and the sense is that United will have their best chance of progress if Guy can be as involved as he has been this campaign.

He started more league games than any other Blues player, and contributed more assists than anyone else in the division. His consistency earned him the News & Star readers’ player of the year trophy along with a number of others from fans’ groups and his fellow players.

They are rewarding individual tributes after his first half-season in Cumbria had been spoiled by injury. It was also comfortably Guy’s most sustained campaign of first-team football in a career which started at Derby and has also seen spells at Port Vale, Bradford and Blackpool.

It is easy to forget this aspect, this relative inexperience, given Guy made his 50th Carlisle appearance in their last game of the season against Walsall. This is still a developing career and, asked how much he has learned from an eventful 2020/21, he says: “Loads. Playing Saturday-Tuesday…you’ve got to do the right things off the pitch, and I feel like I’ve done that a lot better than I did at previous clubs to allow me to get through the season.

“A lot of the lads will take so much from this season. There’s so many lads who haven’t had full seasons before, there’s been people playing in different positions…it’s a massive learning curve for all of us.”

A sign of Guy’s status was when he wore the armband at certain times this campaign. He is one of the more vocal players in the team and the 24-year-old says: “It’s something I want to improve on – be more of a leader on the pitch, talk more, encourage the lads more. In this team I’m actually one of the senior players because it’s a very young squad. I’ve played quite few games now, so I want to feed that to the younger players.”

Given that this is not a squad of well-travelled veterans, it is no surprise when Guy pinpoints the aspect he feels is required to go further than 2020/21, when United’s promotion challenge faded in turbulent circumstances after the halfway point.

“It’s consistency,” he says. “We’ve shown we can get up there and win many games in a row, but the drop-off didn’t help.

“We won one in 12 or 13 [later in the season] and we can’t allow that to happen again, because it’s a massive uphill task from there which we didn’t quite get over.”

Guy, at least, can reflect on the fact he left little in reserve when going about his season. He came into 2020/21 a few months after his start at Carlisle had been interrupted by a knee injury in his third appearance for the club against Cheltenham, in February 2020.

He says: “With the injury, and being in lockdown on my own, trying to get fit…to go on to play a full season, and play the majority of games, I’m really proud of myself.

“The gaffer’s put a lot of trust in me. In other seasons I’ve been in and out of the team, whereas the gaffer here has stuck by me even if I wasn’t playing to my very best. All I’ve done is try to repay him as best I can.

[midfield, on ball make things happen] “He wants me to get on the ball and make things happen. Sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn’t;i t’s just about making sure you want the ball for the whole game even if something doesn’t come off for you.”

What did come off was Guy’s ability to supply his team-mates. He set up 14 goals during the campaign, many from set-pieces, but also knows one thing is missing from his record. “It’s really nice to top the assists,” he says, “but I need to start scoring goals as well [he has yet to open his United account]. It’s a thing I definitely need to improve on. I’ll keep working hard on that.”

Guy recently extended his contract at Brunton Park after the club activated an option. He was one of a number of Chris Beech’s squad to have his future confirmed and the midfielder appears pleased and settled to be remaining in Cumbria.

“It’s nice to know where you’re going to be going into the summer,” he says. “I’ve really enjoyed this season here, and I already can’t wait for next year.”

Guy laughs at the idea the close-season will bring much-needed relaxation. A dad of two young children: Ava-Leigh, who turns two this year, and baby George, who was born in March.

“It [the summer] is going to be nice but I don’t get much of a breather with the two little ones at home!” he says. “It will be just as hard work with them two but it will be nice to have a bit of a break.”

Guy says he could not have performed as he has without the support of partner Abbie. “My missus has helped me out a lot with that with getting up through the night with both of them, and that’s meant I’ve been able to get the rest and sleep I need,” he says. “I’m loving life with the kids and I don’t think it’s affected me too much in games at all.”

Guy says he is already looking forward to next season, and seeing how he and United can grow. “We know what we can do when we’re at the top of our game,” he says. “We just need to be more consistent with it. We’ll take what happened and learn from it to put it into next season. We need to put the wrong things right and make the good things better.

“I’m already excited because we have a young and hungry squad. To have most of the lads getting full seasons in is really important, because they can only learn from it.”

The benefits of those lessons will hopefully be seen by supporters in person, after this Covid-hit season. “The fans are really interactive on social media and it’s nice to have that bond,” Guy says. “Hopefully we can get them in here next season and they can give us an extra 10 per cent.”