Paul Simpson has not ruled out exploring the free agent market as Carlisle United continue looking for an uplift.

The Blues brought in seven first-team signing during the January transfer window but remain in deep relegation trouble.

Manager Simpson says funds are still available should an unattached player emerge who could help the squad.

Asked if keeping tabs on free agents at this stage in the struggle – United are ten points adrift with 16 games to go – would be clutching at straws, the Blues boss said: “Well, it may be clutching at straws, but we have to try and clutch at anything we possibly can.

“And if the right players are out there, who we think could help us, then we've got to look at doing that.

“There are still funds available, because the truth of it is as much as we tried to spend it, we weren't able to [in January] for all sorts of different reasons.

“So we are in a position where we can do it if needs be. But we’ll wait and see.”

News and Star: Josh Vela is one of seven new signingsJosh Vela is one of seven new signings (Image: Richard Parkes)

United’s recruitment in the winter window saw the signings of Luke Armstrong, Harrison Neal, Harry Lewis, Josh Vela, Jack Diamond, Sean Grehan and Georgie Kelly.

Heading out of the squad last month were Luke Plange, Joe Garner and Ryan Edmondson.

Carlisle were poised to bring in an eighth new face but pulled out of a deal after a deadline-day medical.

“We tried to do one more, but he wasn't fit enough to play, or he wasn't fit enough for us to think that it was going to be right,” added Simpson.

“So it is what it is. We're in a position where we lost out on some targets that we wanted, for all sorts of different reasons.

“We can't change it now. This is what we've got now till the end of the season.

“We need everybody to be fit. Josh Emmanuel should be fit for next weekend. And then we'll see whether we can get another striker available.”