By Ben Hardy, Darlington College journalism student

DARLINGTON FC club captain Gary Brown returned to training this week after what he described as a “heartbreaking” six-month injury.

Gary, 26, suffered a serious ankle injury in a pre-season match in July and has amazed doctors with his recovery speed after undergoing surgery.

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After completing his first training session on Wednesday night, Gary has to complete another session next week before being able to play 20 minutes for Darlington.

Centre back Gary was a key player in the Quakers’ Northern League title winning season last year but will have to be patient in his bid to break back into the first team after so long on the sidelines.

He said: “It’s heartbreaking initially but once you dust yourself down I had time to accept what's happened.”

In his absence, Alan White and Chris Hunter have formed a strong relationship in defence which has contributed to Darlington having the best defensive record in the league.

Gary added: “They have made such a good partnership together in the spine of the team and if I was the manager I wouldn’t be swapping either of them on form.

“If someone gets injured or suspended then slot someone in but I wouldn't be changing anything so it’s going to be very very hard to get back in this season.”

Away from the the pitch, Gary is a gas engineer and explains how important it is to balance his football with his job, especially when you suffer a bad injury.

He said: “Your work has to take priority as thats what pays the bills. I've played Northern League since I was 19 so you get used to it.”

Darlington currently sit in fourth place in the Evo-Stik First Division North and are still pushing the leading pack for promotion with 15 games to play.