Paul Simpson says Carlisle United offered to settle Corey Whelan’s contract before omitting him from their squad list.

The defender was not included in the Blues’ list of 21 senior players submitted to the EFL for the rest of the season.

It means the 25-year-old will not feature for United between now and the end of the campaign.

Simpson said that, before confirming that decision, Whelan had turned down the chance to come to an agreement to leave Brunton Park.

“I spoke to Corey in in January, and the truth of it is I offered to settle his contract because I felt as though we had enough players who were ahead of him,” said Simpson.

“We were in a position where Corey would have been the 22nd [player]. And at the time, I was hoping that we were going to get a free agent to come in.

“So I wasn't prepared to take that chance. I explained the situation to him, we offered to settle his contract. And he turned it down. He said he'd rather just come in and carry on training even though he can't play for us.

News and Star: Whelan was in the side that won promotion at Wembley but has seldom featured this seasonWhelan was in the side that won promotion at Wembley but has seldom featured this season (Image: PA)

“So we have to respect that, we gave him his contract when we did. It's just been a decision that I've made because I wanted to keep that one of those spaces.

“Originally when I spoke to him, we had too many [players], and then right at the last few days the Owen Moxon situation changed, the Joe Garner situation changed, I was expecting two others to go out and they didn't.

“So that that's where it all came from. But I did explain it to Corey. He understands the situation.

“We've got space now where if something comes up that we think can help us that we'll look to do it.”

Whelan, who was part of the side that won promotion from the League Two play-offs last season, has made just seven appearances in Simpson’s first-team this season.

The ex-Liverpool, Yeovil Town and Wigan Athletic man, whose contract is up this summer, has in the past turned down interest from fourth-tier sides.

Asked if Whelan and other out-of-favour players could make loan moves to non-league clubs in the short-term – that prospect remains despite the closing of the EFL transfer window – Simpson said: “Two of them turned down an opportunity to go to the National League – they were wanting to go into the Football League.

“Unfortunately for them, nobody from the Football League asked us to take them.

“So we're just going to have to wait and see. We'll carry on working with what we've got. And we'll see what happens."

A further seven under-21 contracted players are also named, including the recent Ukrainian signing Anton Dudik, along with Gabe Breeze, Jack Ellis, and loan signings Fin Back and Seán Grehan plus Max Kilsby and Kai Nugent, the latter currently out on loan at Queen of the South and Annan Athletic respectively.

The 21 senior players include January signings Luke Armstrong, Harrison Neal, Josh Vela, Jack Diamond and Georgie Kelly, as well as Jack Armer, Ben Barclay, Dan Butterworth, Taylor Charters, Josh Emmanuel, Jordan Gibson, Jayden Harris, Paul Huntington, Sam Lavelle, Sean Maguire, Alfie McCalmont, Dylan McGeouch, Jon Mellish, Jack Robinson and loanees Joshua Kayode and Terry Ablade. Goalkeepers do not need to be registered on the squad lists, with Harry Lewis, Tomas Holy and Jokull Andresson not featuring on United's senior list.

The full EFL squad lists can be viewed HERE.