Carlisle United boss Paul Simpson believes Southampton will want to loan Dynel Simeu to a higher level next season.

The young centre-half has become a hugely popular figure in his half-season loan at Brunton Park.

Simeu has endeared himself to fans with his wholehearted displays and energetic celebrations.

It has led supporters to express their hope that the 20-year-old could return to Carlisle for a further spell in 2022/23.

Simpson did not rule out such a prospect – but also expects Simeu’s Premier League parent club to be keen to test the centre-half out in a higher division.

“What you find in the Premier League is that they want to see players in their own environment once they’ve been out, usually at the start of pre-season,” Simpson said.

“I’ve been in constant touch with Danny Butterfield [Southampton’s loan manager and an ex-Carlisle player] with feedback on how he’s doing, but we haven’t got to a point where we’re talking about next season.

“My focus is on getting a spine of a team, with permanent signings if we possibly can, and then we’ll look at the loan market of just adding a few.

“If Dynel is one of them, I think he’s shown us in my time here what he’s about.

“He’s constantly developing as a footballer and he’s also a really top bloke.

“The fans have taken to him and what I’ve really pleased me about him is that when you get loan players, they don’t always get clubs and they don’t get an affinity with them. He’s embraced the whole thing.

“It’s a really strange thing to say, but coming up and playing at Carlisle United is a unique situation. You have to get it or it doesn’t work.

“He certainly has got it and I’m sure there’ll be discussions about it.

"Being honest, I’m expecting them to want him to go a little bit higher, possibly the next level, so we’ll see if that happens and we’ll take it from there.”

Simeu was left on the bench on Saturday, with the young defender having been away from the club for several days last week because of a family bereavement.

The former Chelsea man was part of the squad that conducted a lap of appreciation after the Stevenage victory and produced some of his trademark antics in front of the Warwick Road End.

Simeu later took to social media to thank fans for their part in his “small but amazing journey” in Cumbria.

Simpson said that United will only benefit if they have a reputation of handling such loan players in the right way.

“There’ll be conversations, and I hope what clubs are seeing is that we’re looking after these lads,” the manager added.

“If we make things even better then we can look after them even better, and if we can get a group of players around them who are good, then it all aids their development.

“The challenge, however we do it, is to get a group of players who can go out there and start the season strongly for us.”

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