Paul Simpson admits that planning for next season is now a growing part of his thinking in his Carlisle United team selection.

The Blues boss, whose side go to Peterborough United tomorrow, last weekend named an XI entirely of players under contract for next season.

United’s manager insisted there have been no final decisions made on players whose deals are up in the summer and who were not in the XI to face Stevenage.

But he did conceded that he is thinking beyond the current campaign with how he weighs up his selection.

“It's certainly coming into my mind at the moment, I'm not going to hide away from that,” said Simpson, whose side are close to League One relegation with seven games to go.

“I am looking towards the future.

“That said, no definite decision has been made on anybody who was on the bench [last weekend].

“It's not a case of, ‘you're on the bench because you're not going to be staying’.

“But I am certainly looking at trying things out and looking at things with the future in mind.”

One player in last weekend’s XI who did seize the moment was Dan Butterworth, who fired two goals in the 2-2 draw.

The former Blackburn Rovers man now needs to emulate both the quality and work-rate he demonstrated against Steve Evans’ side, says Simpson.

News and Star: Dan Butterworth, left, earned his rewards against Stevenage says Paul SimpsonDan Butterworth, left, earned his rewards against Stevenage says Paul Simpson (Image: Barbara Abbott)

“He's done really well in the last couple. And he's had his reward,” said Simpson.

“I don't think it's a coincidence that he smashed all of his GPS running stats, in the 82 minutes he was on the pitch against Stevenage.

“He got that reward and he was as effective as he was.

“So the challenge for him now, and I suppose for everybody is go and work as hard as you possibly can. And who knows, you might get lucky and you might get some rewards.

“I thought our first goal was probably, in terms of football, the best goal we scored this season. And let's hope that that there's more of that to come.”

Players whose recent absences from the squad continue to cause debate among some fans are Paul Huntington and Fin Back.

Simpson said their omissions last weekend were purely selection decisions, with Jack Ellis and Josh Emmanuel currently preferred to Back in the right wing-back position.

United’s boss also said there has been no fall-out between him and experienced captain Huntington, who is back out of favour after a brief run back in the side.

Simpson was asked why Huntington was not considered as an option at least on the bench given the aerial approach Stevenage were always likely to take at some stage – and which, in the event, was part of their route back into the game through the line-leading of sub Vadaine Oliver.

After the game, Simpson said he had not brought on certain substitutes because he wanted height on the pitch to contest the visitors’ style.

News and Star: Paul Huntington is back out of favourPaul Huntington is back out of favour (Image: Ben Holmes)

United’s boss, asked about Huntington's omission, said: “People can question everything that I do. And that's what happens – when you don't win games people do question.

“I try to pick a bench that gives us different options. At the time, my decision was that I thought the bench was right.

“And it's easy now – I could look back and say, ‘Yeah, if I'd put somebody else on the bench, it might have been different’.

“But there's no point in looking at those things. I've just got to deal with them. And I've just got to keep doing what I think is the right thing to do.

“I'm never going to please everybody. I know that and certainly in the position that we are at the moment, I know I'm not pleasing a lot of people.

“But that's the life as a football manager. You go through peaks and troughs. And this season has been a trough.”