CLARK KELTIE will be given every opportunity to prove his credentials when the Darlington midfielder returns from injury next month.

That was the encouraging message from manager David Hodgson last night after an injury-ravaged year for the 22-year-old.

Keltie has not made a first-team appearance since sustaining cruciate knee ligament damage in January. After a lengthy rehabilitation process, the Newcastle-born player was on course to return in time for the beginning of the season, before an ankle injury in training curtailed his comeback.

But now, as Keltie continues to make steady progress, Hodgson has given the Tynesider extra incentive to put his injury problems behind him.

Keltie has until the end of December -when his contract expires - to convince Hodgson he does have a long-term future at the Darlington Football Stadium.

"We came to an agreement during the summer that Clark will be given the chance to earn a longer deal," Hodgson confirmed.

"He's had a terrible year with injuries, but he's doing well now and when he has recovered we will have a good look at him and take it from there."

Hodgson did the same with Alan Harrison last year, even though the former Middlesbrough defender wasn't on Quakers' books when he broke his leg during a pre-season friendly.

The Quakers boss has yet to see the best of Keltie, who was a revelation in his first full season with the club three years ago.

Keltie's performances under former boss Mick Tait attracted interest from a host of clubs, before the Tynesider lost his place under Hodgson following injury and loss of form.

"We're all aware of Clark's capabilities and it will be up to him to show me that he can perform to a good level, week-in, week-out," added Hodgson. "However, his priority at the moment is to get fully fit."

Quakers travel to Bristol Rovers tomorrow, who yesterday parted company with manager Ian Atkins after a poor start to the season.

Rovers are 19th in League Two and have won just two games this season.

Paul Trollope has been placed in temporary charge of team affairs.

Read more about the Quakers here.