Club captain Paul Huntington says Carlisle United have to rebuild bridges with fans after relegation – and he wants to be part of that job.

The experienced defender said it is vital the Blues look to rid themselves of the “losing mentality” that has set in during 2023/24’s struggles.

But he said nobody should assume that will be an easy task – however determined United are to bounce back.

“It’s certainly not going to be a quick fix,” said the 36-year-old.

“I’d imagine there will be a lot of changes, both ins and outs, from the playing side.

“We haven’t had those discussions yet. [But] we quickly need to change a losing mentality to the one we had last year, which was getting used to winning games.

“We need to change the mentality, and that has to start now, not next season – you have to show you want to be part of the long term vision, which is all very positive, but we need to give something back to ourselves and supporters because it’s been a pretty tough watch this season.

“You hope down the line we can be in a better place.”

Huntington was an unused substitute as United fell to the 2-0 defeat that sealed their fate against Northampton Town on Saturday.

The man who captained Carlisle to promotion last term has been used much more sparingly by manager Paul Simpson this season.

But Carlisle-born Huntington stressed he is keen to remain part of the club into next season despite the frustration of recent months.

“It’s been hard watching, at times frustrating, gut-wrenching at times,” said the defender.

News and Star: Paul Simpson, left, has used Huntington sparingly this seasonPaul Simpson, left, has used Huntington sparingly this season (Image: Richard Parkes)

“Everyone wants to play, no matter your age or who you are.

“Myself – I’ve got more hunger than ever to hopefully be given an opportunity to be here next year.

“I want to be here. I feel as though I show that every day in training that I care, and want to be part of the club going forward.

“Those conversations need to be had, but the message now, as it has been for the last few weeks, is that we need to give something back to the supporters and each other and put some pride in the shirt.

“It’s now about showing you want to be involved in it and hopefully we can have a much more positive season, albeit in a lesser division, now it’s been confirmed.”

Huntington admitted it was a “very flat” feeling in the dressing room after Carlisle’s return to League Two was sealed on Saturday.

“There wasn’t a lots said in there – if we’re honest, it’s been coming the last few weeks,” he said.

“It hasn’t been good enough across the season, whether it’s a lack of quality or whether it’s not scoring enough goals, keeping enough clean sheets, switching off at key moments, not doing your job at set-plays….

“You can look at a number of reasons, whether it’s recruitment, or the shortened summer [last year after the play-offs], the new owners not coming in until the January window, a lack of quality…there’s been a number of factors.

“You’ll have seen it, my friends who come and watch see it for themselves, and I feel for the supporters, because it’s their club and we’re representing it.

“We’ve got a lot of building to do to build back those positive bridges we built last year. [Relegation] is a real low for the football club.”