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Liddle Ready For Next Batch Off The Darlo Production Line

Darlington’s Head of Youth Craig Liddle believes the club is gaining a positive reputation for developing players.

Striker Michael Smith left the club last week to join Charlton Athletic while defender Dan Burn joined Fulham earlier in the summer.

Both those moves boosted the transfer coffers at the Northern Echo Arena with the club reportedly receiving in the region of £400,000 for the pair though add-ons could see that figure increase over time.

Curtis Main also left the club over the summer to join Middlesbrough on a one-year deal although no fee was involved in that move.

And Liddle is confident that there are more young players waiting to step off the conveyor belt.

“We’ve had players leave in the last six months and I’m sure there’ll be others in the future because we have got some very good players in there,” Liddle told the Darlington and Stockton Times.

“The other week we played Grimsby and there were a load of scouts there.”

“We won 5-0 and played really well, that will have had people talking and I know people are coming to watch us because I’m getting phone calls from scouts every week.”

Liddle’s team currently sit in 5th place in the North East Youth Alliance with two wins, a draw and a defeat from their first four fixtures.

However doing well in the League isn’t the be all and end all for Liddle who must balance results with player development. The key objective preparing his youngsters for the rigors of first-team football.

“All I can do is give them an opportunity and it’s up to them to take that opportunity,” added Liddle.

“I want to get players in the first-team, but if they move on to bigger and better things that’s even better.”

“I always say now, if anyone is any doubt about coming to us, you’ve only got to look at Dan Burn and Michael Smith plus you’ve got John McReady and Phil Gray in the first team squad.”

“You’re always going to get a chance, especially with the manager that we’ve got – if you’re good enough you’re going to play, it’s as simple as that.”

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