Paul Simpson has spelled out the “duty” every Carlisle United player has this summer – including those he’s told can leave.

The Blues manager says any player who returns for pre-season in what he deems sub-par condition will be fined.

Simpson says that is part of the “high standards” he intends to drive as Carlisle rebuild for 2024/25.

And that goes for those under-contract players who he has told are free to look for new clubs.

Simpson has not publicly named those players, who will be in the group returning to training on June 24 should they fail to find a suitor this close-season.

United’s boss said: “My challenge to everybody is that you're a professional footballer, so you look after yourself over the summer, you're contracted to this football club and you have a duty to this football club to come back in in the best shape you possibly can.

“They're all going to be given a leeway as to the physical condition that they come back in.

News and Star: Carlisle have 18 players under contract for next seasonCarlisle have 18 players under contract for next season (Image: Richard Parkes)

“If they're outside of that leeway, they will be fined for it, because I want high standards. I want it to be right.”

United have 18 players under contract at a time Simpson is hoping to make significant additions to his squad for the return to League Two.

He has previously spoken about a lack of focus among certain members of his squad as Carlisle floundered in League One in 2023/24.

Simpson has maintained that he’ll not be naming those players who he has informed will not be in his first-team plans should he make the signings he wants.

He says to do so would risk inviting accusations from some fans that certain players would not be pulling their weight.

Speaking generally about his desire for maximum commitment, the United manager added: “We tried to set high standards as a group of staff [last] season, and unfortunately not everybody's come along with it.

“That's why you get the result that we got.

“Ultimately, I have to take the blame for that, but now hopefully with a new squad – because it will be a new squad – the standards will improve and hopefully that will show in terms of our performances.”