Carlisle manager Greg Abbott believes Paul Heffernan would have signed for the Cumbrians if Sheffield Wednesday not been relegated.
Heffernan, released by Doncaster at the end of the season, was close to joining Carlisle during the January transfer window and Abbott was confident of landing the Irish striker until Wednesday lodged their interest in the 28-year-old, who signed a two-year deal with the Owls earlier this week.
Abbott told Carlisle's official website: "We did have a chance. We've been talking to Paul for over three months, as early as December, and I think if Sheffield Wednesday had not got relegated we would have got our man.
"I know he was choosing us above other offers he had and it was down to us and Sheffield Wednesday. It was a blow when they went down because that is a tough club to compete with, especially with him living in Doncaster, which is about 20 minutes from Wednesday's ground.
"The type of club that he's going to, they're another Leeds United really aren't they. They'll have 25 to 30,000 on the terraces if they're up near the top, so it was a bit of a blow when they went down."