Paul Simpson lambasted Carlisle United’s second string for a display he described as “disgraceful”.

Manager Simpson labelled the performance in the EFL Trophy defeat to Nottingham Forest’s Under-21s as the worst since he returned to the club.

Carlisle’s 2-0 defeat left them facing likely elimination from the competition.

But Simpson was more concerned with the dismal performance levels which he said would put certain careers in peril.

“Even at Harrogate, when we were really poor [during Simpson’s early months back at the club in 2022] I don’t think it was disgraceful, but tonight I think it was,” he said.

“Wow. As a professional footballer, there are some players out there tonight that should be absolutely embarrassed with what they’ve produced.”

News and Star: Forest's second goal capped a miserable night for UnitedForest's second goal capped a miserable night for United (Image: Ben Holmes)

Simpson, first speaking to the club’s official media channels, hit back at the idea his players would need to be lifted after such a poor night.

“Hang on a minute, they’re human beings and they’re adults. They don’t need somebody to lift them, they have to lift yourself. You’re a professional footballer and this is your bloody job,” blasted the Blues boss.

He went on to describe the standards of United’s back-up players as “massively concerning” on this evidence and that of other second-string outings this season.

The livid manager added that he would sooner name a reduced subs bench in the league this weekend than reward some of last night's team with places in the squad.

“We’ve got lads who are coming off the bench and being able to make an impact and do it for five or ten minutes, but when you’re asking them to produce a performance over a prolonged period they’re not being able to produce it,” he said.

“That’s the real disappointing thing. The worrying thing as well, I watched the warm-up and they looked like they were right at it, the noises were good in the changing room…I don’t know, I just think some of those lads are playing at it at the moment.

“There’s only one way that’s going to go.

“I keep saying to everybody here that there’s so much positivity going on in this football club that you have to make sure you stay part of it, you have to keep doing the right things.

News and Star: Dan Butterworth was among the players given an opportunity in the Trophy gameDan Butterworth was among the players given an opportunity in the Trophy game (Image: Ben Holmes)

“Even if this isn’t your moment for playing in the first team, you have to do things properly so that when you get your chance, you go and take it.

“Tonight looked like there’s a number of players who are not doing things properly.

“We are hoping to move this club forward. It won’t happen overnight, before January, but these players are playing to try and get either an extension or time to stay at this club where there are lots of positive things going on, or they’re going to struggle to get somewhere else.”

Simpson made ten changes to his line-up, with Ben Barclay back from injury and a number of other fringe players getting a chance to impress.

But they struggled throughout against Forest’s B team, who struck two second half goals in front of Brunton Park’s 17th lowest attendance of all time – just 1,268 watching the game at United’s ground.

To qualify for the knockout stages, Carlisle now need to win their last group game against Harrogate Town and hope Forest U21s lose at Accrington Stanley – as well as achieving a goal difference swing of four.

Simpson added that he had no qualms about speaking so critically of his team.

“It’s not many times where I have to come out and say this, but I’m sorry – anybody who witnessed this tonight, I’d like to think they’re going to agree with me, because that tonight isn’t acceptable,” he said.

“I saw them in training yesterday and they were really bright and lively, but I keep saying to everybody, ‘Out there is where you get judged, not on a training pitch’.

“That’s where you have to produce, where you have to show people what you’re about. That’s where you have to work.

“The lads who went out on Saturday at Bolton [in the 3-1 League One victory] put in an unbelievable shift to a point where they’re getting cramp.

“Nobody was getting cramp tonight, nobody was going to, because they just didn’t work hard enough.

“Unfortunately football is a running game. If you don’t run harder than your opposition, you’re probably going to lose it, and tonight they ran harder, played better football than we have. We haven’t done enough.”