Carlisle United’s signing of Luke Armstrong is understood to be a club record deal.

The Blues are bringing in the Harrogate Town striker at the start of the January transfer window.

United yesterday confirmed they had reached agreement with the League Two club and the player.

The details of the deal have not been commented on by any of the parties involved.

But the News & Star understands the fee involved will beat the previous record at Carlisle – the £140,000 paid for Joe Garner back in 2007.

It is also, though, believed to be significantly less than the £500,000 Carlisle were quoted for the attacker in the summer.

The deal represents the first major outlay by the Piataks since the American family took over the club last month.

Armstrong, 27, is set to train with his new team-mates now, even though he cannot play for the Blues until the new year.

Manager Paul Simpson, speaking at a fans’ forum on Monday evening, explained how United revived their interest in the frontman having been priced out of a deal in the summer.

He also set out why the Blues were keen to get the player into the club immediately, even though he will not be able to make his debut until January 6.

"You don't need to be a football coach to know Luke Armstrong has been a really effective player over recent seasons,” said Simpson.

“We've enquired two or three other times, but he's been too expensive. Last summer we spoke to Harrogate again, and they told us the figures Wrexham and MK Dons were [going to pay] for him, and it was a very short conversation from there…

"When we were in the office on deadline day, at about 9.30pm, we rang Luke's agent again, and he said they were just pulling up at Wrexham.

“We had a cheeky nibble at that point, not expecting it to happen.

News and Star: Paul Simpson commented on the Armstrong signing at a fans' forum on Monday nightPaul Simpson commented on the Armstrong signing at a fans' forum on Monday night (Image: Ben Holmes)

“The deal fell through [because of the late filing of paperwork]. The top and bottom of it is, Harrogate were a bit naffed off they'd lost out on that hell of a sale, and Luke was naffed off he'd missed out on the chance to earn an incredible contract.

"He went back to Harrogate, and they [ultimately]  agreed he wasn't going to play because he was going to go in January.

“Greg [Abbott, United’s head of recruitment], knowing Paul Thirlwell [Harrogate’s No2 and United’s captain during Abbott’s spell as Blues manager] there, the conversation got started again.

“We said, ‘We can't afford him’, but they said, ‘Talk to us, you might be able to’.

"We agreed a fee. It is nowhere near what Wrexham were going to pay. We feel it was a reasonable fee.

“Once we got permission to Luke, we started talking about it. He really liked the idea, really fancied it, were able to agree a deal with his agent Ben [Harding], and it was done.”

Armstrong will train with United immediately with his registration set to be transferred on January 1. He would not be eligible to play for Carlisle on that date, meaning his earliest opportunity for a debut will come at Exeter City on January 6.

Simpson said United made a point of ensuring Armstrong would be with the squad now rather than waiting until the window opened.

"I was a bit concerned he was still going to be at Harrogate,” said Simpson. “We started talking about him coming in to start training with us now.

“We’ve got games on December 23, 26, 29 and January 1 before we could legally sign him. I had this concern [Harrogate] could get injuries, he would play and then get injured himself.

“I wanted him into us so we had control over that.

News and Star: Armstrong will be able to make his United debut on January 6Armstrong will be able to make his United debut on January 6 (Image: PA)

“We are now insuring him [even though he’s still contracted to Harrogate] and the deal will go through on January 1.

“He'll be available for Exeter away, and we can control his physical load.

“We've got a plan now of exactly how many metres we need him to run, how much high intensity and sprinting he will do, so come January 6 we'll feel he's done enough work to be ready to play that day, if selected."

Simpson, speaking at the forum organised by supporter groups (CUSG), said United had no such imminent agreements with other transfer targets.

But he said there were plenty of irons in the fire, with Carlisle aiming to bring in another five or six new signings.

"There are plenty of people we are speaking to,” he said.

“We've got a vague idea who is available for us. Ideally we want permanents but not many clubs are willing to let them go.

“It is difficult but we have lots of irons in the fire – but they count for nothing until they're in the building."

United’s manager confirmed he was targeting a new goalkeeper, another striker and at least one new midfielder – possibly two – in light of the long-term injury suffered by Callum Guy.

“If the right central defender became available – and they are hard to find – I would look for that as well,” Simpson added.

“It's not disrespectful to anybody in those positions, but we are low on numbers and I need to add to it."

There are no free agents either good enough or prepared to join United at this stage, Simpson added.

But he felt the squad, with certain players returning from injury, would be strong enough to cope with the busy run of festive games.

“We had 16 outfield players on Saturday, including young Aran Fitzpatrick,” he said.

“Jack Ellis is available, Hunts [Paul Huntington] and Taylor Charters are available and fully fit to train.

“JJ Kayode will be fit, hopefully, on January 1 and Owen Moxon will hopefully be fit for Saturday – his injection seems to be settling his hip issue down.

"We think and hope we've got enough to get through the Christmas programme."