Darlington caretaker boss Mick Tait has confirmed that Third Division rivals Carlisle want top scorer Barry Conlon.

The 17-goal striker has been continually linked with a move to Brunton Park, despite pledging his future to Quakers for at least another season.

Conlon is under contract, so Cumbrians boss Roddy Collins would have to fork out for the big Dubliner.

"Carlisle have been after Barry Conlon for a long time," admitted Tait.

"They've got to put up the money for Barry, it's as simple as that. It could be a whole different picture next season because he will be out of contract next summer."

With that in mind Tait may well be tempted to accept a fee for the former Southend striker or risk losing him for nothing in 12 months time.

Tait, meanwhile, has played down speculation linking homesick midfielder Ashley Nicholls with a move away from the club.

Ipswich-born Nicholls has struggled to settle in the North-East since leaving his home-town club on a free transfer last summer.

The 21-year-old was outstanding in his first season with Quakers and Tait is keen to hang on to one of his prize assets.

"Ashley has another year on his contract and he'll be here next season," said Tait.

"He's a young lad living away from home so he's bound to get homesick. We understand that and we'll do everything we can to make sure he's happy."

Nicholls returned to his native East Anglia shortly after the last game of the season to spend the summer with his family. And despite fears over his future, Tait insists Nicholls will return when the rest of squad reports for pre-season training on June 30.

"He has been outstanding for us in his first season and he can only get better with more experience," said Tait.

"Ashley enjoys his football quite a lot and I'm pretty sure he'll be back for more next season.

"If he still feels homesick then he can come and live with me!"

Tait left for a family holiday yesterday and will return in a fortnight's time, when he will be hoping to secure the services of relegated Shrewsbury's Sam Aiston, as well as retaining defender Stuart Whitehead and midfielder Neil Maddison.

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