Newcastle United and Rangers are trailing Southampton in the race to sign Carlisle United’s sought-after prospect Jarrad Branthwaite, according to The Sun (December 1, p67).
Rangers are understood to be keen on adding the Cumbrians centre-half to Steven Gerrard’s ranks at Ibrox as they believe he has a big future ahead of him, after being impressed by the 17-year-old’s performances with his current League Two side after breaking into the first-team fold earlier this season.
Southampton, though, are the side said to be leading the charge for his signature, with the Saints keen to uncover some bargain British youngsters.
Our interest at this stage is only noted to be on a scouting basis, having sent staff to observe the young centre-half in action at Brunton Park this season.
Branthwaite made his senior Carlisle debut on October 15 when the Cumbrians beat Blackpool in the EFL Trophy, before making his fourth-tier bow the following weekend in a 2-0 loss at Plymouth Argyle.
The teenage talent has since gone on to make his FA Cup debut in a 4-1 win away to sixth-tier side Dulwich Hamlet, and has featured in six League Two fixtures to date, starting each. Branthwaite has won just one fourth-tier match thus far.
Across his six league outings to date, Branthwaite has helped to one clean sheet, after denying Cambridge United a goal in their 0-0 draw on November 23.
Should we try and sign Branthwaite?
No, he isn't good enough
The Carlisle-born defender, who is contracted to the Cumbrians until 2021, has not produced vast numbers in defence, either, with just 1.2 interceptions per game, along with 0.7 tackles and 3.3 clean sheets, per Sofa Score statistics.
He has also given away possession 10.3 times per game in the fourth-tier this term, and is winning 56.3% of his ground duels and 50% of his aerial duels.
Cambridge’s trip to Brunton Park was the Cumbrians’ last league game, having faced Forest Green Rovers in the FA Cup at the weekend, where Branthwaite did not feature in the matchday squad.