AFTER defender Aaron Brown yesterday became Darlington’s latest recruit, Mark Cooper said his squad building is complete and declared himself satisfied with his work.
Since the end of last season, 14 players have moved to The Northern Echo Arena, with Cooper responsible for eight of those signings, the others arriving during Simon Davey’s brief tenure.
Among Davey’s recruits was defender Dominik Werling, who wishes to leave and did not take part in yesterday’s photocall, but Brown was in the line-up after signing a contract yesterday morning.
The 30-year-old former Wrexham and Lincoln defender is likely to feature in today’s game at Kettering Town as Kevin Austin is struggling with an injury sustained during Tuesday’s draw at Altrincham.
“That’s me done now,” said Cooper. “I’m very satisfied with what we’ve got here.
We’ve got a good squad of 20 players and we may have some younger ones who will probably go out on loan to play some games.
“The younger ones that haven’t featured for us, we’ll try and get them games elsewhere to try to toughen them up a bit.
“Kevin is struggling a little bit with his thigh so he is touch and go for Saturday. So we’ve brought in Aaron, who was at Lincoln last year, who can play at left-back.
“He’s been on the radar for a while. We’ve been looking for this sort of player, someone who can play down the left and maybe even at centre-back. We’ve got Kev, who can play left-back and centre-back, now we’ve got Aaron who can do that too.
“He has played a lot of games in the Football League, including the Championship and League One, and he’s also had a few games last season in the Conference for Wrexham, so he knows what the level is about.”
Darlington is the 11th club for Brown, who made his senior debut during the 1998- 99 season with Bristol City.
Since then he has had spells with Exeter, Tamworth, QPR, Torquay, Cheltenham, Swindon, Gillingham and Lincoln, before joining Wrexham in March.
At the beginning of last season he played against Quakers for Lincoln when the sides met twice inside five days during September, while Brown was also in the Imps side which lost an FA Cup tie to Kettering in November, 2008.
That was during Cooper’s two-and-a-half years in charge at Kettering and the manager is looking forward to visiting the club he left last November, when the Poppies were second in the table.
He was succeeded by Lee Harper, who guided Kettering to a sixth-place finish, and Cooper said: “I had good times there and some good results.
Lee steadied the ship after I left, he maintained some stability.
“They’ve got some good players in the team. Paul Furlong, the striker, is an experienced player, they’ve signed a quick left-winger called Makofo, but the majority of their signings have been defenders.
“It’ll be a similar set-up to Tuesday. Kettering are fulltime and have some decent players. They are having a go at this and have brought in players you would expect to get them in and around the play-offs.
“When you’ve done well somewhere it’s always nice to go back and see a few old friends but come 3pm that will all be forgotten.”
Cooper, who left Kettering for an ill-fated spell at Peterborough, is looking for an improvement today after being disappointed by Tuesday’s display.
Winger Josh Gray and striker Tommy Wright are in line to start after impressing when called on during the second half at Altrincham.
Cooper said: “I’m pleased we haven’t lost either of our two games but a bit frustrated that we haven’t got going in terms of our forward play, which is something we’ve been working on.
“But if you’d offered us four points from six before last Saturday we’d have taken that.
“I think the players are a little bit frustrated about the other night so they’re determined to get three points at Kettering.”
* Pictured - Back row, left to right, Josh Gray, Tommy Wright, Michael Smith, Danny Hone, Liam Hatch, Kevin Austin, Richard Offiong, Joe Clarke, Gary Smith. Middle row, l-r, Craig Liddle (head of youth), Neil Maddison (centre of excellence manager), Aaron Brown, Paul Terry, Chris Moore, Sam Russell, Kelvin Jack, John McReady, Curtis Main, Gareth Waite, Kevin Stonehouse (Football in the Community officer), Tony Elliott (goalkeeping coach). Front row, l-r, Richard Dryden (assistant manager), Corey Barnes, Paul Arnison, Ian Miller, Raj Singh (chairman), Mark Cooper (manager), Andy Wilson (group financial director), Chris Senior, Jamie Chandler, Andrew Thompson (kitman) and Will Short (physio).