ALUN ARMSTRONG has ruled out Jarrett Rivers leaving Darlington, despite persistent speculation linking the midfielder with a move to National League side Scunthorpe United.

Rivers was not involved in Quakers’ weekend friendly with League Two side Rochdale, which resulted in a 2-1 defeat at Blackwell Meadows, leading to increased speculation about his future plans.

Scunthorpe, who boast former Darlington defender and academy boss Tony McMahon as their first-team coach, are looking to rebuild following their relegation from the Football League last season, and Rivers has been mentioned as a potential target.

Armstrong is aware of the chatter, but after checking out the situation with McMahon, the Quakers boss is confident he will not be losing one of his side’s leading lights.

“Jarrett’s ill unfortunately,” said Armstrong. “He’s got the bug that (Alex) Purver had. I’ve spoken to Macca at Scunthorpe, and there’s no truth in the stories I’ve seen, so don’t worry fans, he’s not going anywhere.

“He’s a good lad is Jarrett, he works his socks off. He’s probably the fittest lad we’ve got, and he hates not being 100 per cent. He lost a lot of that last year, so I’ve just got to make sure that he’s ready for the start of the season.”

Armstrong has been busy rebuilding his own squad in the last few weeks, with the addition of former Peterborough United midfielder Marcus Maddision and forward Mark Beck, who has joined Darlington for a second time, catching the eye.

The Quakers boss admits his squad is still short on numbers, hence the presence of a number of trialists in the squad for yesterday’s game including Guinea Bissau international Romario Vieira, Stockton-born winger Alfie Hughes and ex-Bishop Auckland centre-half Jordan Emery.

Armstrong will continue to run the rule over his trialists ahead of Saturday’s game with Middlesbrough Under-23s, but while he has not completely ruled out another more established addition, he accepts the bulk of his squad building is now done.

“I’m still looking to add a couple of players if I can, to strengthen the squad,” he said. “But the nucleus is done. If a top player comes along, then it’s up to me to knock on the board’s door to see if there’s any funds available to get that, but at this moment in time, I can’t really see it. We’ve got what we’ve got, and I’m really excited by it, as long as we can stay away from injuries.”

Darlington performed creditably yesterday as they came up against a Rochdale side featuring former Quaker Luke Charman.

Armstrong’s side took the lead shortly before the hour mark with Jacob Hazel latching on to a long ball and firing home via the inside of the post.

Rochdale, managed by former Sunderland assistant boss Robbie Stockdale, levelled two minutes later as Devante Rodney fired home from the edge of the area, and the visitors claimed a winner when Ian Henderson converted from close range from a corner.