Keith Millen says teenage defender Jack Ellis has already caught the eye in the first-team environment at Carlisle United – after finding youth football “too easy”.

The Under-18s captain was yesterday handed professional terms with the Blues.

Millen says the next step in Ellis’s development could be a loan move.

And the manager says the defender from Kendal’s contract was a reward for his rapid progress at Brunton Park.

“He’s a lad that has developed very quickly in the last four months,” Millen said.

“When I get the reports from the youth games, every game he was the outstanding player; it was almost too easy for him.

“We have tried to integrate him into [first-team] training before the Christmas period so I could have a look at him more.

“It’s always a good sign when a young player can come into the first team and cope with the change in tempo and intensity.

“He’s one of those lads who’s taken to it very well. He trains with the first team and holds his own.

“When I saw that, we discussed it as a club and that’s why we’ve made him the offer.

“We have to look now at what’s best for him the next four months. He might be one we look at getting out on loan, if he can’t get into the first team here.

“That’s what we’re maybe looking at doing with him.”

News and Star: Josh Dixon: Workington Reds loan (photo: Barbara Abbott)Josh Dixon: Workington Reds loan (photo: Barbara Abbott)

Millen has already loaned out Ellis’s fellow home-grown players Taylor Charters, Lewis Bell and Josh Dixon in recent weeks.

Dixon was the latest to head out of the Blues, joining Workington Reds ona month’s loan.

Millen hopes the move to west Cumbria will see the midfielder build confidence in his fitness after spells on the sidelines.

“I said to the lad, ‘It’s not about where you go and how you play, it’s purely go somewhere where they will give you a chance and get some game time’.

“It’s about trying to get some belief and trust in his body, that he can cope playing.

“He hasn’t played on a Saturday for a long, long time. It’s more psychological sometimes, that you have to build up that belief, that you can trust your body to play.

“He’s probably a better player than the level he’s going, but hopefully they will give him game time, and all I’m worried about is him getting through 90 minutes, week in, week out, and then all of a sudden he’s off and running again.”

Millen would like to loan out more young fringe players, with keepers Gabe Breeze and Scott Simons possible candidates.

News and Star: Gabe Breeze, left, and Scott Simons (photos: Richard Parkes / Amy Nixon/HH Reeds)Gabe Breeze, left, and Scott Simons (photos: Richard Parkes / Amy Nixon/HH Reeds)

But he added: “The keeper situation is difficult one because they’re both very good keepers but we’ve only got one youth team game a week, sometimes not even one.

“We would like to try and get one of them out on loan and the other one maybe playing for the youth team, and in an ideal world maybe switch them round.

“But it’s difficult with goalkeepers, difficult to get young keepers out on loan. Normally teams have their goalkeeper; it’s not like you normally chop and change that position often.

“Unless somebody picks up an injury to their keeper, it’s difficult to push a young lad like we’ve got.

“We’d like to do it, and if we can’t do it, it’s good that they work with the first team most days anyway.

“It won’t be the end of the world if we don’t get them out.”