“I’m looking forward to getting the shirt back on,” says Fin Back – and by that, he definitely means Carlisle United’s new away shirt.

“I love it!” he says, when asked about the pink, yellow and black ‘fruit salad’ number which has been the talk of pre-season. “It’s something different isn’t it? I think they’ve done a great job.

“All my mates love it, I love it. I’m not lying, I’m being honest. I saw it at Wimbledon, it got an outing there. It’s definitely an eye-catcher, that’s for sure…”

Back will don the lurid away top and the 90s-retro blue number after rejoining the Blues yesterday. The Nottingham Forest man is back for a second season on loan and, of all the temporary signings a club may make, this one feels a particularly natural fit.

In 19 appearances last season, Back showed his ability, potential and competitive mettle in the right wing-back position. Hamstring injuries prevented that number from being higher but he says he is in good shape after pre-season with Forest and, quite clearly, motivated to have another good time at Brunton Park in League One.

“It was something I was very excited by if it could happen,” he says of his return. “Last year was a bit frustrating, so the manager has shown great confidence in me to bring me back, which I’m very grateful for.

“I felt like we have quite a good relationship – he knows my attributes and I really enjoyed playing under him.”

News and Star: Back impressed with his all-action displays last seasonBack impressed with his all-action displays last season (Image: Barbara Abbott)

The idea of coming back was, he says, “something we discussed [early in the summer] but in football nothing’s ever straightforward, so there were a couple of things that needed sorting out, and there was my fitness [too], but I jumped at the opportunity to come back.”

Back says there were other options on the table but Carlisle was “my main focus”. “If I could have been here four weeks ago I would have. It’s something I wanted to get done for a while, especially after last season and what I experienced here, how I got looked after here.

“It felt like a second home.”

Back is comfortable back at Carlisle because he remembers how easy the transition was first time around, when he joined them in the pre-season of 2022. “I was a bit apprehensive because it’s quite far from where I live but within the first couple of days I felt really comfortable.

"Any footballer plays their best when they feel comfortable in their surroundings. The transition was easy and it felt like home, and easy to get on with the football side.”

Both defensively and on the attack, Back was a dynamic part of Simpson’s side last season until a hamstring injury intruded in the 4-1 win at Salford City in November. His return appearance, at Leyton Orient in the spring, then saw another such blow.

News and Star: Back is consoled by Omari Patrick after suffering injury in his comeback game against Leyton Orient last seasonBack is consoled by Omari Patrick after suffering injury in his comeback game against Leyton Orient last season (Image: Richard Parkes)

It was a trying time for such a bright young player but he says now: “I’m in a good place. I’ve had minutes in my legs with Forest, been training with the first team, and I’ve had good match minutes with the academy side.

“Forest and myself just wanted to make sure everything’s right before I came back, so I can hit the ground running from today.”

Did the second injury lead Back to do anything different in terms of rehab and his progress from there? “To be honest, no, because I pride myself on being the ultimate professional and doing everything right on and off the pitch.

“Nothing has changed or did change. Injuries happen in sport, it’s just how you react to them. You can’t feel sorry for yourself, you have to get yourself back in the best condition possible and give yourself the best chance for it not to happen again.”

Back was not quite fit enough for United’s play-off final against Stockport County in May, but he was at Wembley to bask in the glory of promotion with his team-mates. That was another memory which helped hook him back to Cumbria.

“I’m not from the area but just seeing how important it was, how much it meant to so many people – players, staff, fans – was really special,” he says. “It kind of opened my eyes to seeing the bigger picture and seeing how special this football club is to so many people.

“It was something I wanted to be a part of and [told me] I wasn’t finished [here].”

Back has always felt like more than just a loan player passing through. There is a connection between him and United’s supporters, who relished his performances last season, while his father, the England rugby union legend Neil Back, has also kept his eye on the Blues.

“I’ve been in contact with a few of the lads as well, and everyone’s very excited for the start of the season in League One,” says Back junior.

“They were in Scotland last week which I had hoped to be part of, unfortunately that didn’t happen, but I’ve seen some of the lads this morning and I made some real good friends last year. I’m really happy to be back.”

He is back in new territory, given Carlisle are preparing for the third tier, with their preparation continuing with a friendly at Chorley tonight before a final warm-up game at home to Dundee United on Saturday. On his potential involvement this evening, Back says: “We’ve just got to see what happens, [after] I had some minutes at the weekend [with Forest], but I’ll definitely be involved before the start of the season.”

News and Star: Back believes United's spirit and 'humility' means they can step up well to League OneBack believes United's spirit and 'humility' means they can step up well to League One (Image: Richard Parkes)

There are reasons why Back believes Simpson’s side will manage the transition to a higher division well. They are more reasons why he was so eager to return.

“It will be another step up from last year, and there are some really big clubs in this league – including ourselves, by the way,” he says.

“Everyone’s just excited. What we did last year was amazing and I’m fully confident we’ll be successful this season.

“I think just the spirit of the group was the main factor, and we haven’t lost that. The togetherness, resilience and humility we showed last year, I feel it already. Everyone’s excited and bring on Fleetwood next Saturday.”