KEITH GILLESPIE has been released by Darlington after making just three appearances.

The Northern Ireland international had signed an initial one-month deal which he hoped to extend, but manager Mark Cooper has decided to bring Gillespie’s stay at The Northern Echo Arena to an end.

Cooper said: “Keith’s been released. I think we’ve got enough cover in midfield.

“He came to us when he wasn’t really fit and we’ve had a few games called off, which haven’t helped him to get that fitness.

“But we now haven’t got time to get people fit, we need people who are ready to go, can go straight into the team and improve us.

“I’ve had to make the decision – is he as good as Gary Smith? You’d probably say he’s no better. He keeps the ball well but I don’t think he’s any better than what we’ve got.

“If I can put that money towards a striker that can get us ten goals before the end of the season or someone who can create goals then that’s what I’d rather do.”

Gillespie, 35, made his Darlington debut in the defeat Wrexham on November 20 and also started the home games with York City and Tamworth.

Cooper has made no secret of his desire to bring in new players next month with a centre-back and a striker at the top of his wanted list.

However, he said Barry Conlon will not be coming back for a third time.

The Irishman is available after leaving Stockport by “mutual consent”. A club statement said the 32-year-old had been suffering with injuries and had “off field”


Earlier this month, Conlon was given a three-and-a-halfyear driving ban after pleading guilty at Wigan magistrates court to drink driving.

“He’s not one were looking at,” said Cooper.

Two players already at the club have agreed to extend their stay with Aaron Brown and Aman Verma both signing new contracts.

Having been operating on month-to-month deals since signing at the beginning of the season, left-back Brown has put pen to paper on an 18- month contract.

Verma has extended his loan from Leicester City until February and Cooper is pleased with the 23-year-old’s form.

“Aman has extended his deal for another month with a view to extending it even further,” said Cooper.

“He’s the type of player I want. He’s good with the ball, he’s strong and one that definitely improves us.”

However, teenage midfielder John McReady has extended his loan at Whitby Town until the end of the season.

His Quakers contract expires in the summer, but Darlington have included a 24- hour recall clause on his loan.

■ Darlington’s game at Gateshead on Tuesday is subject to a 9.30 inspection on the morning of the game.