Gavin Skelton insists there are reasons to be “excited” about Carlisle United next season – and believes the Blues can mount a challenge.

The Cumbrians are expected soon to confirm their released and retained list after the end of the 2020/21 campaign.

That is the next step towards reshaping their 10th-placed squad ahead of another League Two season at Brunton Park.

Although the future of several players remains to be decided, it is likely to be a less dramatic summer of squad overhauling at Carlisle.

Assistant head coach Skelton believes that, despite the challenges the Blues face, they can keep growing in 2021/22.

Asked if United could compete despite their well-documented budget limitations, the Cumbrian said: “I genuinely do. I feel excited about it.

“If we can get our recruitment right, retain a good, strong base, build on the experience we’ve got, get our fans back…

“We finished 10th, and with where we were [top of the league in January] we wanted to be better, but you have to be ambitious and positive.

“Realistically, we understand where we’re at, but we want to push on next year.

“In the coaching staff and players there’s a hunger to do really well. That driving ambition.

“We’re frustrated this year but there’s no point feeling sorry for yourselves because nobody else does.

“We feel, with the squad we’ve got and lots of work going on behind the scenes – if you can get the ones you’re after, it puts us in a strong place.”

Carlisle’s out-of-contract players include Paul Farman, Nick Anderton, Rhys Bennett, Gime Toure, Omari Patrick, Offrande Zanzala, Dean Furman, Cedwyn Scott and Morgan Feeney.

It is likely that the Blues will seek to keep many of those players, with boss Chris Beech having said he wants to keep “99 per cent” of his squad together.

Several other players have already had their contracts extended, and Skelton believes evolving the squad rather than more wholesale changes is the way forward.

“If you look at the new squad last year, at the start of the season the results and performances were up and down, when we got beat at Oldham, off Fleetwood, at Cambridge…

“Hopefully this year we’re not needing to gel as a team on the job. We’ve got a strong foundation, and if we can get recruitment right, add to that, and replace what we lose or what goes, it puts us in a stronger position.

“A team thrown together, it was always going to take time, but when they hit their straps they got on a good run. Hopefully it puts us in a lot stronger place this time.”