Chris Beech hopes “ambitious” young loan signing Ethan Walker can apply serious pressure to Carlisle United’s more established forwards.

Beech was pleased with the teenage Preston North End prospect’s first Blues outing.

Although it came in Saturday’s poor 3-0 opening-day league defeat at Cambridge, 18-year-old Walker looked lively after coming off the bench.

The left-sided attacker came on for Lewis Alessandra as United desperately tried to find a way back at the Abbey Stadium.

He had a hand in a handful of shooting opportunities and Beech said Walker comes to Carlisle with plenty of promise from his time with his Championship parent club.

Head coach Beech said: “We’ve seen him there for 25 minutes or so and you can see he’s technically very good, and responsible for the ball.

“He’s been a red-hot goalscorer for the last three or four seasons for Preston’s youth system; they have a lot of faith in him and need him to play first team football.

“We’ve got an injury to Brennan Dickenson which provides an opportunity to put pressure on people who play up top to make sure it’s not only them doing it, and if they aren’t we can change it and somebody else can do it.

“That’s what we need to be as a squad and it was important I put us in that position.”

Walker will be in the mix to be involved next Saturday when United will be seeking an immediate improvement in fortunes against Southend at Brunton Park.

It will be a game between two sides who suffered heavy first-day defeats, with the Shrimpers thrashed 4-0 at home by EFL new boys Harrogate Town.

Walker figured on the left of Carlisle’s attack on Saturday with Beech saying the teenager can be versatile.

United’s boss said: “That’s his favourite position but he’s played centre-forward, off the striker and also played against Everton [in a friendly] last Saturday on the right wing.

“He’s a good player, young, ambitious, took responsibility, took players on, got the ball to the byline, crossed it, tried to come inside, to get a shot off, and got fouled.

“He looked a good player, good in his one-v-ones and enjoyed his time on the pitch.”

Beech, meanwhile, has admitted United’s communication needs to be better in moments such as the incident which led to Cambridge’s opener on Saturday.

It saw the Cumbrians' central defenders Aaron Hayden and Rod McDonald drawn to the same aerial ball, allowing home player Luke Hannant a free run in behind to score.

Beech said such moments can easily determine the outcome of games which can otherwise be on a knife-edge.

He said: “They’re going for the same ball in the eagerness to do well, not in letting us down or not wanting to do well.

“They’ve just got to communicate a bit earlier – maybe one voice, one action.

“But it wasn’t. It was no voice, two bumped heads. It didn’t bode well for the outcome.”

Asked if those levels of communication can improve quickly, with United having shipped nine goals in three games already, Beech replied: “That could happen, Hannant could miss, the game doesn’t change from that mistake and then they end up having a great day and you’re sitting talking about a great away win.

“There’s not much difference, but if you look at the stats of the game there’s a significant difference besides the main one, which is winning.”