Former Carlisle United defender Darren Kelly said he did not want to stand in the way of his Preston loan striker Connor Simpson joining the Blues.

Simpson had impressed in a spell at Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division outfit Hyde, managed by Kelly.

The Irish boss, who played for Carlisle from 2002-4, said he had expected to keep the 18-year-old Championship prospect for the rest of the season.

But that changed once news of League Two interest in the big forward emerged - and Kelly is delighted Simpson has joined his former club.

"I wanted to take him on loan to the end of the season and it was all agreed," Kelly told the News & Star.

"But I want to see the lad develop and when I heard he had a League Two opportunity, I waived it.

"He has been absolutely brilliant for us and I didn't want to stand in his way.

"Then when I saw the news [of him joining Carlisle] I was delighted to see him going to a club close to my heart."

Simpson scored eight goals in 15 appearances this season for Hyde, who are 10th in the same division as Workington Reds.

He came through the ranks at Hartlepool before joining Preston in a £50,000 deal last January.

He has linked up with the Blues on a half-season loan and is set to be in the squad to face Northampton on Saturday, in United's second game under caretaker managers Paul Murray and Tommy Wright.

Kelly added: "When he came to us he hadn't really played for three months. He was playing in the youth team. The boy just wanted to play.

"He has got everything you need, really. He is six foot five and is good in the air, but it would be wrong to see him as someone you can just play up to and look for flick-ons.

"He has got good hold-up play, has a good touch, brings people into play and has a good range of passing - and for a big man, he is quick.

"He will run in behind all day, will chase and harry, and won't give defenders a minute.

"He works so hard and I'm sure Tommy and Paul will love that about him. He was averaging 11km a game for us, which is brilliant.

"On top of all that he is a lovely young man - you can't help but love him.

"He will be a breath of fresh air and I'm sure Carlisle supporters will encourage him. He is still a young lad but I'm excited for him to get this opportunity."