Danny Grainger believes he has signed a young player with plenty of potential in Carlisle United teenager Sam Hetherington.

The youth team Blues midfielder has linked up with Workington Reds on a work experience loan deal.

Hetherington made his debut in the 2-2 draw at Ashton United and was again in the squad for Reds’ midweek 0-0 draw with Macclesfield.

Ahead of this weekend’s home clash with Ilkeston Town in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, manager Grainger has spoken about his move for 17-year-old Hetherington.

“Sam’s a player I really like,” said Grainger.

“He’s in a similar mould to Kai Nugent, who we had from Carlisle last season – I love his enthusiasm, his desire for football.

“He’s a player I think a lot of and think a loan move is good for his development.

“But, as I said to him, I’m not just taking him for the sake of it. I do believe he’s got a lot of good attributes and when he gets his chance he’s got to take it.

“I see a lot of Sam because I’m in the club [United] a couple of days a week, and it was one I wanted to have a look at.

“He came on against Ashton and did well in his ten-15 minute cameo.

“He’s going to be heavily involved in the next couple of weeks, certainly, with the injuries we’ve got.”

Hetherington, who has been a regular for United's youth side and also featured in reserve games this season, is the second United youth player Grainger has drafted in this season.

A move for defender Josh O’Brien proved short-lived after he was recalled by United.

Grainger hopes Hetherington can be with Reds for longer but the ongoing arrangement is designed to benefit all parties.

“It’s a work experience loan – if Birchy [United Under-18s boss Mark Birch] was short, he can recall him, and if the first team wanted him, like with what happened with Josh, they can bring him back.

“If the youth team have a game he can go there. It doesn’t stop his development with Carlisle.

“The work experience loans are brilliant – you get the best of both worlds.”

News and Star: Danny GraingerDanny Grainger (Image: Ben Challis)

Grainger, meanwhile, is close to completing a loan signing to bolster his squad ahead of the festive period, which starts with Saturday’s home clash with Ilkeston Town.

The Reds boss can also welcome Steven Rigg back from suspension but Conor Tinnion and Finn Wallbank will miss out with injury.

“Tinners is probably going to be a couple of weeks,” Grainger said. “He felt the groin on Tuesday night which we had an issue with a few weeks ago.

“Ironically this Saturday he was going to be rested. With Fin, he’s in better shape than we thought – we’re hoping it’s just a tight hamstring, and fingers crossed we can get away with just a week or so.”

Grainger’s side are unbeaten in seven although six of those games have been draws.

“The Macclesfield game was a well-contested draw where both sides will have been disappointed not to take one of their clear-cut chances, but it was a fair result overall,” he said.

“For me, to go toe to toe with Macclesfield and the resources they have shows how far we’ve come in the last couple of seasons.

“Against Worksop, we came up against the likes of Paul Green, Hamza Bencherif, Liam Hughes, James Hanson – a team packed with ex-EFL players.

“We’re bringing in lads at the start of their journeys. We’ll get inconsistent performances, we know that, but they’re starting to show what good players they can be and realising you can’t turn up now and then, you’ve got to turn up every other week and give everything.

“We’re seven unbeaten, and yes, that’s had six draws but that’s included two of the toughest away games in Marine and Whibty, a game against Ashton who were third at that point, Worksop, Macclesfield at home…all those teams will be fighting it out for the play-offs.

“I don’t think anybody’s had a harder run than us and to come out of that unbeaten is a tremendous achievement, but now we’ve got to put in a performance that warrants three points instead of one.”

Reds sit 14th in NPL Premier ahead of Saturday’s visit of ninth-placed Ilkeston.

“It won’t be an easy game, and there haven’t been any easy games – but we’re in good form,” added Grainger.

“Tuesday was our first game in nine we haven’t scored in. We’re showing brilliant form in front of goal, creating chances, and it’s just case of marrying it all together and putting performance in defensively like we did Tuesday.”