Paul Simpson has suggested he wants to bring in a younger goalkeeper to replace Mark Howard – as he played down the prospect of a move for Keiren Westwood.

News of player of the year Howard’s release, plus ex-Blues star Westwood’s departure from QPR, had led some fans to call on United to bring back the former Brunton Park No1.

But Simpson said he was not seeking another veteran goalkeeper having decided to release 35-year-old Howard.

Westwood, 37, recently left QPR after a short-term stint at Loftus Road.

The Republic of Ireland international was one of the stars of Simpson’s first spell in charge and remains a hugely popular figure with Blues fans.

United’s boss said: “What I would say is I’ve got massive amount of respect for Keiren Westwood in what he’s done in his career.

“But if I was going to be thinking of Keiren Westwood, I’d have kept Mark Howard. Simple as that, really.”

Simpson said he did not have a particular target in mind at the moment regarding the goalkeeping position.

But he said the decision to release Howard after an impressive campaign was made with the longer term in mind.

Asked if he had another keeper lined up at this stage, Simpson said: “I’m not set as to who’s going to come in.

News and Star: Mark Howard with his end-of-season awards haul (photo: Ben Holmes)Mark Howard with his end-of-season awards haul (photo: Ben Holmes)

“I’ve spoken already about the fact we’ve been looking at players but I would never make an approach for another player because it’s not right, it’s against the rules, it’s not respectful to another club.

“I have had conversations about possibility of loan goalkeepers coming in, and finding out who’s available.

“There’s been lots of conversations but I don’t have anybody in mind. I’m looking at a long-term view of where I want this group of players to go.

“Those are the decisions. For this particular example on Mark, that’s the decision I’ve made.

“Everybody will look at it as strange, with the fact he cleaned up [at the end-of-season awards event] on Sunday night, but it doesn’t change my mind on where we need to go.

“Every decision, whether I’ve retained or released them, there will be a group of people who say, ‘Yeah, that’s the right decision’, and also a group who’ll say, ‘That’s a rubbish decision’.

“I’m in a position where I can’t please everybody. I’ve got to a point in my life where I’ve realised that and don’t worry about it. I do what I believe is the right thing for the club and that’s why I’ve done it.”

Simpson said Howard’s contribution to United was undeniable, but he stood by his decision.

“Mark Howard in my 15 games has been excellent in terms of his shot-stopping and personality around the club,” the manager said. I’ve got no problem about that.

“What I want to do is build something, and I’ve said this before – I’m trying to build with a long-term view in mind for the football club.

“I’m also fully aware I need to have a short-term answer to make sure I stay in the job to have that long term vision.

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“I’m building for the future. I think this is the opportunity to start it now.

“I’m not going to go into any individual situation; all of my decisions have been made with the long term future of the club in mind. That’s the same for every one of the players who’ve been released.

“They’ve all done well and I can’t thank them enough for the work they’ve done.

“Sadly in football, a time at a club comes to an end at some point. Sadly, for those players out of contract, it’s given us the opportunity to move players on and start with a group we think will help to improve us on and off the grass.”

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