Jack Armer smiles when asked about his summer terrorising batsmen as opposed to his day job of manning Carlisle United’s defence. The 20-year-old Blues player is adept on the cricket field and is making his mark for Penwortham in Lancashire’s Palace Shield.

“We won last Saturday but we got beat the other day,” he says. “The other team got 210 and we were 29-6 chasing it. We stumbled to 180…

“I think I’ll probably get three more games in. It’s good to mix it up in the summer. It takes your mind off football, basically.”

Armer’s first campaign for Carlisle was a bright success and has earned the former Preston defender a new two-year deal. Eventually he will return to Cumbria to attack the 2021/22 campaign but for now he can reacquaint himself with his other sporting love.

“My dad played for Penwortham, and I’ve been at Penwortham since I could bowl or bat,” he says of his cricketing life. “It starts there at Under-11s, and I started first-team cricket about three or four seasons ago.”

Was the summer game ever a career option for Armer? “It got to about Under-13s, Under-14s and I was still at Lancashire, but Lancashire trained on the same nights as Preston [North End] trained,” he says. “It was then that I thought, ‘I’ll have to give football a dabble’.”

That decision proved the foundation for a career which appears to come with plenty of promise. In the meantime, Armer has impressed with ball in hand, taking 5-14 for Penwortham against Great Eccleston, before hitting a half-century against Barrow.

“It takes up your whole day, it’s a totally different changing room and they’re your mates at the end of the day,” he adds. “It takes your mind off football and just relaxes you.”

Armer earned his opportunity to relax after pushing his way through at Carlisle. He joined last summer and, after spending the first few months of the season on the fringes, became a regular pick by the end.

There was universal approval when he was then handed new terms last week and the defender can reflect on positive steps over the last 12 months, after his release from his boyhood club at Deepdale.

“It’s a really good opportunity,” he says of his new deal. “Compared to what I was doing last summer [when] I was training in a park…I signed a one-year contract and since then I’ve had a run of games, and two years is perfect for me now, I think.

“It’s the longest contract I’ve had. It does show a bit of faith and I’m out to repay that.”

Armer has a realistic perspective on his aim to forge a substantial career. Although he gained Scotland Under-19 honours, and was well regarded at Preston, coming to Carlisle set him the challenge of starting again.

“It was a bit tricky,” he says of last summer. “I’d played 30-odd games in non-league [on loan with Lancaster] but no-one really knew who I was. I’d sat on the bench once for Preston, and my name wasn’t really out there. I heard there was a bit of interest from Carlisle, so I got on the phone and it went from there. To be tied down for two years now is a lot more comforting.”

Armer said discussions over his new deal happened “pretty quickly” and he appears enthused by the challenge of building something more at Carlisle.

Chris Beech, the head coach, recently said Preston might live to regret letting the defender go. Is this idea in Armer’s own mind?

“A hundred per cent,” he says. “I’ve got to try and get back to the Championship and play at as high a level I can.

“It does spur you on a little bit. You have got a point to prove. But for me personally at this stage of my career I just want to play as many games as possible and improve as fast as I can.”

If Armer appeared sufficiently battle-hardened when playing for Carlisle despite his relative inexperience, it might be because of that non-league grounding. His loan at Lancaster exposed him to a competitive level at a young age.

He approached that challenge with the right attitude. “It was really good,” he says of his time at the Giant Axe. “I think you’ve got to go out on loan to play games and get used to men’s football. You learn a lot about how to use your body a lot more because it’s totally different to youth team football.

“You probably head the ball more times in a Lancaster game than you would in five youth games because it’s so physical. I think I played in every game apart from two before the season was curtailed. It was over 30 games, so even though I am young I’ve already played 60 games.

“I think [going out on loan to a club like that] is one of the best things to do. And the manager trusted me. You see a lot of managers who don’t [back] young lads, or when they make a mistake they won’t get another chance.”

Armer is looking forward to a reunion with the Dolly Blues in July when United play a pre-season friendly with Lancaster. “I actually spoke to a couple of the lads over the weekend [about it] – a couple of them messaged me. There’s a couple of fans that still message me now and again to see how I’m getting on too. I think it’ll be a good game and I’m looking forward to going back.”

While these are the low-key days of summer, when Armer is free to don his whites and give his all for Penwortham, he knows the day job will be back on his agenda soon enough.

“We’ll be back in near enough a month,” he says. “Probably in the next week or two I’ll start doing a few bits to get really fit for pre-season. Six weeks of pre-season, if you’re not fit, is going to kill you. You need to be firing for that first game.”

He has certain aims in mind when he thinks of 2021/22 at Carlisle. “At least 30 games, if not 40,” he says. “That’s why you’ve got to go back raring to go. The faster you go back the more chance you have of starting the season well.

“With a good start, for me and the team individually, we can go to the top.”

The campaign in general will hopefully be a more positive one purely for the presence of supporters back in stadiums. Armer is looking forward to Brunton Park once more looking and sounding as it should.

Many of those supporters have expressed their delight at his contract news, and Armer says of that positive reaction: “It’s quite special. I’ve only [experienced] fans in [Brunton Park] for three games.

“Watching on iFollow, I don’t know what you can see and what you can’t. You can’t see the whole pitch, but [their backing] is quite special. Just as soon as we get back in we’ll have to give them something back.”