Paul Simpson says goalkeeper Harry Lewis “jumped at the chance” to join Carlisle United.

And Blues manager feels the arrival of Bradford City No1 Lewis is a “massive” deal for the Cumbrians.

Lewis joined Carlisle on a two-and-a-half year deal after United paid an undisclosed fee to the League Two club.

His arrival ends a search for a new senior No1 at Brunton Park.

Simpson said he has long been an admirer of Lewis but the keeper’s availability only became clear in recent weeks.

“When you're looking at areas, you always have three or four different options. So we did have other options on it. And we've been speaking to clubs,” said Simpson.

“Harry only came into the actual equation over the last few weeks.

News and Star: Harry Lewis joined the Blues todayHarry Lewis joined the Blues today (Image: CUFC / Amy Nixon)

“He's a player who we talked about [previously]. The season before last when I first got the job permanently, we talked about Harry because he was on a free from Southampton, but the truth of it was we couldn't match the deal that Bradford gave him and so he went to Bradford City.

“But once we found out that he was definitely going to be available and once we got permission to speak to him, it was all done very, very quickly because he literally jumped at the opportunity.

“He was delighted to come. He knows the situation we're in but he's up for the challenge. And he wants to do everything he possibly can with the rest of the group to try and make sure we stay in League One.”

Lewis was an ever-present for Bradford in the league last season and has remained a regular starter for the Bantams this term.

The 26-year-old is expected to go straight into the side for his debut against Oxford United this weekend as Carlisle continue their bid for third-tier survival.

On the new keeper’s attributes, United’s manager said: “I think he’s a good physical size to start with, which I think's important as a goalkeeper.

“He’s a good shot stopper, he can come and claim crosses, he ticks all the boxes in terms of a goalkeeper.

“He's had a good schooling at Southampton, good experience with the number of games he's played at Bradford. I think he played over 50 games last year for Bradford City, and he's played every game for them this season.

“So he's got good experiences coming in, and he’s used to an expectation because if you play for a club like Bradford City, they expect you to win games, expect you to go out and perform.

“And we need a goalkeeper who can come in and perform. And I think he fills that role for us.”

While Lewis is set to replace Gabe Breeze in goal on Saturday, Simpson says he wants to reward the young Cumbrian with a new contract.

News and Star: Gabe Breeze is being offered a new deal by UnitedGabe Breeze is being offered a new deal by United (Image: Richard Parkes)

Breeze, 20, has performed well in his first four first-team games since replacing Tomas Holy in goal.

Simpson says academy product Breeze has underlined his potential and has earned the offer of new terms.

“As a young player, he's on a young pro’s contract, which is a real low basic wage. So I wanted to reward him for what he's done so far, because I think he deserves that,” said Simpson.

“I'm a big believer that if, if a player is doing well, and they're not on a level of contract, they shouldn't be coming to us, we should be going to them.

“So we went to him last week and talked about extending the contract for him and giving them a reward. I'm still waiting to hear back on that one.

“But I hope that will be resolved very quickly and Gabe can settle down, and can continue to work with [coach] Dave Timmins and pushing other goalkeepers and develop into a good, good pro.”

Simpson added that he has no current plans to let any of his keepers go, with four glovemen now on the professional books - Lewis, Breeze, Holy and loanee Jokull Andresson.