Paul Simpson believes teenage prospect Josh O’Brien will benefit from being called into Carlisle United’s first-team picture.

The youth team defender was named as a substitute for last weekend’s defeat to Blackpool.

O’Brien’s appearance in the matchday squad came at a time the Cumbrians are depleted by injuries and other selection issues.

The 17-year-old is one of four second year youth players set to remain at United next season having been offered a third-year scholarship deal.

The big defender has been on the bench earlier this campaign in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy, but last Saturday was his first taste of a League One matchday.

“I had a choice to make whether we brought the boys back from Workington who are on loan [Aran Fitzpatrick, Sam Hetherington and Jake Allan], but I think they’re getting really good experience playing in senior football so I didn’t want to disrupt that,” said Simpson.

“They haven’t got many games left, so I felt as though Josh was the right one to put on the bench to make up the numbers.

News and Star: O'Brien is one of four teenagers offered a third-year scholarship dealO'Brien is one of four teenagers offered a third-year scholarship deal (Image: PA)

“It would have been easy to go with six [substitutes] but I don’t see the point in that.

“At least he [O’Brien] has had the experience of being involved in a first team game, he’s sampled being at Brunton Park in front of a big home crowd, so hopefully in the long run he’ll benefit from that.”

O’Brien had a brief loan spell at Workington earlier in the campaign while the other trio – Fitzpatrick, Allan and Hetherington – have also been offered third-year scholarships as United back their potential to develop.

The teenager’s place in the squad last weekend came at a time Simpson decided against bolstering his numbers with players recently disciplined over a night out.

Jordan Gibson and Alfie McCalmont were again omitted. Their prospects of a return will be considered ahead of the final home game of the season against Wycombe Wanderers this weekend.

United have a number of walking wounded at this late stage in the campaign, with Jack Robinson (ankle) the latest concern for the Blues.

Simpson said he would not be “slogging” his threadbare frontline squad in training this week.

But he added: “The truth is at the moment all the weeks are lighter because there’s no point in slogging players – they’re all coming to the end of a physically demanding season and also a psychologically demanding season.

“We’ll get them prepared for next weekend and hope we can produce a performance that gets a result.”