ARRAN WEARMOUTH has not kicked a ball yet for Darlington but faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to a serious knee injury.

The forward sustained a cruciate knee ligament injury at the end of last season while playing for previous club Blyth Spartans, but the issue was not detected before he signed for Quakers in May.

He even continued to play for Blyth after sustaining the injury, not realising the severity of the problem and believing he had recovered.

However, the former Bishop Auckland ace felt soreness in his knee before beginning pre-season with Darlington and was sent for an MRI scan which has indicated he required an operation which he underwent yesterday. Full recovery from such an injury typically requires six to 12 months.

It is a big blow to Wearmouth, who signed a two-year contract when he joined Darlington, as well as manager Martin Gray, who had tracked the player for a long time and even tried to sign him before the end of last season when Quakers were locked in a promotion battle with Blyth.

Gray said: “He’s going to be out for quite a while. He had the op yesterday, he’s had his cruciate ligament repaired, it was very successful and now he’s on the road to recovery.

“He took it really badly when we received the news a week or two back. We’ve acted as quickly as we can. There’s nothing we can do other than look after him and get him back playing as quickly as we can.

“Unknown to us he did it at Blyth Spartans at the end of last season. It happened with about four or five games to go.

“He came back and got some minutes under his belt and had he not done that we would have looked into it and done a more in-depth medical.”

The season starts on Saturday, August 6 and Gray may now look to replace Wearmouth with another signing.

He added: “I’m always looking for players, that’s nothing new, but we’re now one player down. We brought Arran in to give us a big push and he’s just going to have to get on with it and we'll help him get back fit.”

Darlington are at Gateshead on Friday evening and for their final pre-season friendly will also play a behind closed doors game a week on Saturday against a Football League club.