Carlisle United may not be getting the same Jamie Devitt they had before. The good news: they’re still getting Jamie Devitt.

This appears to be the conclusion Paul Simpson has reached in handing him a new contract today. If Devitt, at 32, is not quite the bounding, elastic, goalscoring figure he was at Carlisle United from 2016-19 then that doesn’t mean he isn’t still useful – isn’t still, in fact, an extremely valuable and also maturing presence.

Simpson doesn’t award deals as favours, or to please crowds. Signing up the popular Devitt for 2022/23 is business just as serious as the six other deals United have sanctioned this summer.

READ MORE: Jamie Devitt signs new deal at Carlisle United

It’s easy enough to see the reasons. Last term, in the first four games of Simpson’s revival of United, Devitt was quietly, unobtrusively crucial.

It was not an energetic Carlisle team waiting to be propelled by his delivery, his free-kicks and his forward-running goal instinct, as it was under previous managers.

News and Star: Devitt is popular with United's fans (photo: Barbara Abbott)Devitt is popular with United's fans (photo: Barbara Abbott)

It was a brittle group in need of a cool footballing head. Someone who’d been around a few blocks, who could put their foot on the bag of air and deflate stressful situations.

United, don’t forget, were in the mother of all pickles when Simpson arrived and picked Devitt for his first match at Leyton Orient. It was a gamble in one sense, given the midfielder’s recent injury past at Barrow and his according lack of match minutes.

Yet it worked. United became just a little less panicked, a shade less frenetic and skittish. They demonstrated the value of an older head who knew where to be, how to receive and work the ball, how to lubricate the play, how to retain if there’s nothing on and how to apply those subtle flicks and nudges that can go unseen in the modern world of high athleticism and xG.

Tension duly lowered. Carlisle stayed in games better and, increasingly under Simpson, found themselves in a position to win them.

In those four, before injury struck again, they took 12 points. Devitt did not finish any of them but, by the time he was substituted, United had built a better platform.

News and Star: Devitt played a crucial early role in United's revival under Paul Simpson (photo: Richard Parkes)Devitt played a crucial early role in United's revival under Paul Simpson (photo: Richard Parkes)

After the first one, at Leyton Orient, they won or clinched all the rest late on. Contrast that with the total unspooling of pretty much everything against Swindon Town in the last game Before Simmo, when Devitt (and Kristian Dennis, another more seasoned pro who joined in January's last-ditch influx) was a sub.

Simpson is nobody’s fool. He has picked his way through the market this summer and found experience the trickiest quality to get over the line.

Bar Tomas Holy and Dennis, he had nobody in the squad past 30 years of age. The manager whose last successes at Carlisle were driven by stagers like Kevin Gray and Chris Billy must have seen a void that still needed filling.

Enter, then, Devitt, whose influence in a young and aspiring squad ought to spread further now.

That can apply whether such a player is in or out of the team. With Devitt there is extra grounds for hoping it to be the former.

Since leaving Carlisle three years ago it is as though someone has been persistently poking at a Devitt voodoo doll. His appearance tally in those seasons reflects a string of rotten injury luck: 6, 28, 13.

News and Star: Devitt starred at United from 2016-19 (photo: David Hollins)Devitt starred at United from 2016-19 (photo: David Hollins)

This has blighted his ability to make good on the dynamic form which, in 2019, earned him a move up the divisions.

Yet it has also, when you listen to him and watch how he’s gone about this latest chance and incentive, kept the fuel for his fire topped up.

As such, it would be a rewarding sight indeed if, now, Devitt had a freer run, got that stretch of games that has eluded him for too long, levered himself back into the sort of League Two groove where the very best of a talented and creative player can re-emerge.

If it does not, one can be sure that Simpson has not bet the house on the situation. If it does, it will be a satisfying latest chapter in the story of someone who, in that hard-to-explain way, does appear to ‘get’ Carlisle United, does seem to know what the place can be like if the right buttons are pushed.

On the broadest of levels, Brunton Park should be a better place for having Jamie Devitt around. The rest, along with the player's durability, is a matter of Simpson’s faith and judgement. And that hasn’t missed too many marks of late.