Paul Simpson has played down talk of an immediate return to Carlisle United for Gary Madine.

The Blues are on the hunt for reinforcements and are looking at the free agent market.

But manager Simpson has cooled speculation that former United striker Madine, who is currently without a club, could return.

The United boss pointed out that the 33-year-old forward is still not back to full fitness after a long-term knee injury.

Simpson said Carlisle’s need is for players who are ready for action now.

“There’s lots of names around. I keep hearing Gary Madine’s name being mentioned but Gary isn’t going to be fit until the end of January,” said Simpson, speaking to BBC Radio Cumbria after Tuesday’s Bristol Street Motors Trophy win over Harrogate Town.

“He’s done his cruciate ligament [an ACL injury in March]. He’s not fit.

“We need players who are fit and can come in and help us.

“I know that name’s always been talked about. There are players out there, and we’re keeping trying.

“We’ve been knocked back on probably four, but we keep going, we keep doing all we possibly can to try and get the players in who want to come and help us, which is a big thing, and who we believe can help us.”

News and Star: Paul Simpson remains on the search for free agentsPaul Simpson remains on the search for free agents (Image: Ben Holmes)

Madine, who has had two spells with Carlisle, left Blackpool at the end of last season.

United are looking at a number of positions, with goalkeeper another priority area amid concerns Jokull Andresson may have dislocated his shoulder.

Simpson said he has already approached some free agents about the possibility of joining United as a senior keeper to compete with Tomas Holy.

Carlisle do not have a game this weekend, with their trip to Barnsley postponed because of the Tykes’ international call-ups, meaning Simpson has extra time to add to his squad ahead of Saturday week’s return to action against Charlton Athletic.

Simpson was also asked by Radio Cumbria if the former Newcastle United midfielder Matty Longstaff could be an option, but the Blues boss said that, while Longstaff is “a player I like”, he is another who will not be fit until January.

“We need help now,” United’s boss added.

“The transfer window opens in January, so there will be lots of options. At this moment we are limited to players who are free of registration.

“We had a player come in and train with us who was on non-contract forms who would have been a really good signing, but we’ve found he’s signed non-contract with somebody so we’re not able to do anything there.

“We’re trying, we’re doing everything we possibly can, it’s not through a lack of effort and we’ll keep going.”