Paul Simpson has praised Carlisle United’s young players for how they've responded to his recent blast about the club’s academy.

Simpson included three of the club’s youth team in his recent first-team squad.

And United’s boss said they and others have gone about things in the right way since he aimed a broadside at the club’s youth set up.

Simpson recently told the News & Star that the academy at Brunton Park needed a “shake-up” as it was not producing the goods.

He followed that by watching some of the teenagers impress in county cup action then rewarding three – Romeo Park, Aran Fitzpatrick and Josh O’Brien – with places on the bench for last Tuesday’s Bristol Street Motors Trophy game against Harrogate Town.

Simpson said the youngsters’ opportunity highlights the nature of professional football and the need to be ready at all times.

“When I criticised the academy in the media, I spoke to them all the next day,” said Simpson.

“I said, ‘Look, football’s a really strange game. I’ve just given you a knock there and said I’m not happy about it. But it changes really quickly. You make sure you keep working hard, you never know who’s watching, you never know who’s going to come’.

News and Star: The young trio were on the bench to face HarrogateThe young trio were on the bench to face Harrogate (Image: Ben Holmes)

“I thought they were different the way they went about it at Aspatria [in United’s 4-1 win in the Fred Conway Cumberland Cup second round].

“If that performance had been below standard I could very easily have not put three on the bench [against Harrogate] but I felt they deserved a lift, and that’s why I gave them that.”

Attacker Park featured for the first team in pre-season and scored in the friendly against Gretna.

He and his young colleagues have played for the reserves this season too, while defender O’Brien is currently on a work experience loan with Danny Grainger’s Workington Reds.

“It was disruptive for Josh to come back from his work experience at Workington but Jake Allan would have been given an opportunity – but he had concussion [from the Aspatria game] so he missed out. Josh was the next available defender so he came into it," Simpson said.

“They didn’t get a chance [in the Harrogate game] because the game was too tight, I really wanted to win 2-0 to give us a chance.

“Unfortunately they don’t get an opportunity, but if they never get another go at least they’ve got a shirt they’ll keep as a memento.”