Star signing Zach Clough says he is already feeling the love from Carlisle United’s supporters – and is raring to go for the new season.

The former Bolton Wanderers, Nottingham Forest and Wigan Athletic star wasted no time in making his mark in front of supporters with a hat-trick on his first appearance this week.

Clough and the Blues know bigger challenges await as they continue their pre-season build-up, following Tuesday’s 8-0 victory at Penrith.

But the 26-year-old attacker has already got fans talking – and he says he’s grateful for the reaction he’s received since he joined the Blues.

“It’s a lovely feeling and on the day I signed everything was so positive,” he said. “I felt the love on Tuesday night from the sidelines – people were shouting and having a good laugh.

“We were giving a little bit back because we enjoyed the game and it was a good occasion.

“I’m really happy with my decision and the group have helped me with settling in.”

Clough also says he is enjoying the full backing of boss Chris Beech to make a major impact for United in the 2021/22 season.

“It’s perfect for me. That’s what I used to love when I was at Bolton,” he said. “Whenever I’ve played my best football I’ve had a manager who has loved me and wanted to make me a part of it.

News and Star: Clough scores a penalty at Penrith (photo: Barbara Abbott)Clough scores a penalty at Penrith (photo: Barbara Abbott)

“It’s a lovely place here, a lovely green place to come and live, and the lads have really helped me to settle.

“I’m raring to go, I can’t wait for the season to start in just under a month or so.”

Former £3m man Clough scored four minutes into his first appearance on Tuesday night, and had brought up his treble inside 22 minutes.

He said it was an important first step in forging relationships with his new team-mates on the pitch, with United back in pre-season action tomorrow with a double header at Workington and Hebburn.

“The first two weeks of pre-season is always hard. and once the games come we really start to enjoy it. That’s when you really start to get to know each other on the pitch,” he said.

“Training helps with that, but it’s on the pitch where you start to build relationships and get to know how each other plays.

“The standard of training is really high and the manager won’t let anything drop. The intensity we play at in training is what we show on a Saturday and in games. I hope that’s what the fans see.”

One of Clough’s goals on Tuesday came from the penalty spot and the forward admits he is keen to assume spot-kick duties in the forthcoming campaign.

Lewis Alessandra has often taken the responsibility in the past for United. Clough said: “I’ve always been on penalties, to be fair, so I’ll hope to be taking them here. We haven’t had that discussion, but I hope so.”

Tuesday’s game at Frenchfield Park was watched by 670 fans – United’s first game in front of supporters in 2021 – and supporters saw plenty of evidence of Clough’s skill and finishing attributes.

He added: “It was nice to finally be able to play in front of the fans and we had a great result and a good run-out.

“It was a great atmosphere and a great night. The weather was perfect and it’s good to get off with a winning start. It builds the confidence and we can go again with that on Saturday.”

On his goals tally, he said: “I thought I should have had another penalty as well, I wanted four! I was just about to square that for Gime [Toure] but someone came in from behind me and took me out. I don’t know if the referee felt sorry for them with the fact we’d scored eight, but it was an enjoyable night and obviously good to score a few goals and get off to a good start.

“I know we were up against opposition that go to work, and they’re not a professional team, but they [Penrith] gave it a good go and they worked hard. They made it hard for us and that’s why it was a good run out.

“I just want to come here, score loads of goals and hopefully the gaffer sees me as a striker so I think I can add a lot of goals to my tally this season.

“All I want to be doing is playing with a smile on my face. We’ve got a great young captain and it’s a good squad. I think we can do good things this year and we’ll see how far we’ll go. We’re hoping to be right up there at the end of the season.”