Watford have joined the race to sign Carlisle United youngster Jarrad Branthwaite, the Watford Observer has been told.

The Hornets are one of a number of clubs to have scouted the 17-year-old, with Everton also believed to have made a formal approach to acquire his services.

The defender has made 14 appearances in all competitions this season, but has been absent since Boxing Day with a calf strain. 

His current contract with Carlisle expires in 2021, but it is believed he has been offered a new deal at Brunton Park. 

Recent reports suggest Liverpool and Chelsea are interested in the Cumbrian, while Manchester City, Leicester, Arsenal, Newcastle, Rangers and Celtic are also thought to have sent scouts to observe the player.

In October last year, Carlisle's director of football David Holdsworth suggested Branthwaite had the potential to become a top player and that it would take a sizeable offer to convince the club to sell.

He said: "If they want to take Branthwaite then they’re going to have to offer a lot of money for him.

“I see him as potentially a top player if he keeps his attitude right.”