David Holdsworth feels the Carlisle United squad is as strong as this time last year.

The director of football says that, despite the loss of some key players this summer, the Blues remain in a good place.

He highlighted the arrival of some promising young defenders onto the books along with the experience of Kelvin Mellor.

United sold George Tanner and Aaron Hayden to Bristol City and Wrexham respectively.

But, asked if he thought Carlisle were as strong as they were at this stage in 2020, Holdsworth replied: "Me personally…yes. I do.

"We’ve brought in Kelvin Mellor, who we tried to get last year. His experience…George hasn’t got that yet.

"Bristol City have paid for potential. George has played 40-odd games and we wish him well, but he’s still not there yet. Bristol City know that - and I wish Aaron every success too.

"When a player says he wants to depart we have to do what we have to do. That was a good move for us.

"You have to remember we brought in Morgan Feeney [in January] who reputedly was one of the best centre-halves around until two years ago when he had his injury with his hamstring.

"We’re hoping he comes through and he’s really fit. I’ve had a good conversation and he feels good, pleased with where he is.

"In Corey Whelan we know we’ve got a very good player who has shown that already. Potentially he came in maybe as a player that could be versatile but I think everybody’s seen what a good athlete he is. He’s already a very good asset to us.

"And we’ve brought in Jonathan [Dinzeyi] who will be equally equipped at being successful in that place."

Holdsworth, meanwhile, did not shed any light on the ownership succession situation when asked in his recent session with the media.

Supporters' trust CUOSC have said that meetings are being arranged aimed at bringing the ownership and debt position to a head.

Holdsworth is close to Edinburgh Woollen Mill tycoon Philip Day, whose firm loaned United money from 2017. That debt is now owed to another firm with EWM links, Purepay Retail Limited, and they have long been linked with further involvement at Brunton Park.

Whether that is still on the cards, though, Holdsworth did not say.

"Like you, I hear certain things but I’m really not the person who can give you those answers, because I’m not on the Holdings board or involved in those conversations," he said.

"I’m purely focused on the deals that have been done and the way forward for Carlisle United, and we do hope it’s a healthy one."

Holdsworth also said EWM's support to United had been "imperative" before a period of player sales had gone on to support the club's finances.

"EWM really were a major help and support for Carlisle United," he said. "That’s changed now but more importantly, when we’ve had to find a way we have."

After Holdsworth also said questions about whether transfer income would help pay off debts were better answered by the Holdings board, the News & Star invited the club hierarchy for comment. We have yet to receive a response.