Paul Simpson says new dad Jordan Gibson must keep aiming high after his latest exploits as Carlisle United’s star man in 2023/24.

Attacking midfielder Gibson is way out in front as the Blues’ leading scorer on seven goals.

Simpson says Gibson’s latest impressive showing, when scoring twice against Harrogate Town this week, is a “benchmark” for United’s No7.

The manager feels the ex-Bradford City man is well capable of reaching double figures and continuing to play such a prominent part for the Cumbrians.

“He has to use [Tuesday night] as a benchmark of how to work, and the rewards you get when you work,” said Simpson.

“The games where he’s scored goals are when he’s worked his socks off.

“He’s had a few when he hasn’t quite been at it – and I get it, he’s had a change in his life with the baby coming along and with everything and all the emotion that goes with that.

“I know from my own experience how that does get to you a little bit and changes your whole outlook.

“He’s got to keep pushing on, demanding, he works like he did and shows the ability he did [against Harrogate].

News and Star: Gibson skilfully scores his second against HarrogateGibson skilfully scores his second against Harrogate (Image: Ben Holmes)

“If he does that he’s got every chance of getting to double figures.”

Gibson’s brace in the Bristol Street Motors group stage game meant he has hit seven goals in his last ten appearances, with his previous strikes coming against Peterborough United (one), Bolton Wanderers (three) and Burton Albion (one).

That puts him just one short of his best-ever return in English football of eight goals in the 2021/22 campaign with Carlisle.

His form saw him nominated for October's SkyBet League One player of the month award, a prize won by Charlton Athletic's Alfie May, as well as a shortlisting for the PFA Vertu Motors fans' player of the month for the division.

While Gibson has tended to be used in a three-man attack recently, Simpson deployed the 25-year-old in the right wing-back position against Harrogate.

That did not temper his attacking capabilities with Gibson firing United to their first-ever win over the Yorkshire side.

Simpson praised Gibson’s adaptability and said: “I think I’m right in saying he did it one game at home last year, and he did it in pre-season.

“I think it’s a positive one and [on Tuesday] the way he’s worked in recovering balls back, making recovery runs back in, he’s shown he can do it.

“It’s a positive wing-back role when Jordan’s there but in this game it was a case of needs must because of the personnel who I wanted in the team to give us a bit of a solid base, and also players who I felt could create something and score.

“I just felt it was the right fit for him. I can’t stand here and say he’ll do it many times this season – I’m not sure if we’ll go back to that shape again – I just thought it was right for the game, and I’m pleased the players were able to adapt and fit in with it.”