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Purcell top target as scouts keep tabs on Quakers
Darlington may remain rooted to the bottom of the table but there is another barometer by which their standards since the turn of the year can be measured. The number of scouts talent spotting at The Northern Echo Arena has dramatically increased and that is entirely due to Quakers' improvement, believes assistant manager Kevin Richardson. Though performances have not always been rewarded with points, Darlington have claimed seven of the last 27 available, a run comparable to the previous nine games from which Quakers gleaned only a point fewer. However, since January Steve Staunton's side have regularly taken the lead in matches, something they did only twice before Christmas. With a raft of new players ten have signed since January rival clubs have been keen to see who is making the difference at the Arena and more interested spectators could well be in the stands today when Darlington take on Torquay United. After Tuesday's game I looked at the list of scouts that came to the game and that is bigger than it used to be, said Richardson. People in football talk, they'll have been saying Darlington are doing this and that, and that was shown by the amount of scouts here. It was interesting on Tuesday that we're being taken seriously and that's credit to the players and now they have to maintain it. We've hit a bit of form, if you can call it that, so people are having a look. And the players have got to produce the goods so that the manager will consider re-signing them. Since the turn of the year our form has improved a lot, our performances are better. There's better understanding between the players and there's more commitment. The question is can we squeeze more out of them Richardson conceded that scouts could well be taking a look at Tadhg Purcell. Staunton has been in discussions with chairman Raj Singh regarding securing several of his current squad to longer-term contracts and chief among his priorities must be a deal for the Irish striker. He has made a stunning start by scoring six goals in nine games and Richardson said: Everybody wants goals, everybody is looking for a striker. In the short space of time he has been here he has adjusted to the football, to the tempo and has settled into living over here too. He's got something about him, he's got a presence. He's still learning, so we're still trying to cut out the little errors, as we do with all of them, and if we can improve there then I think he would really benefit. He listens and wants to do the best he can. I'm sure he, and all of these players, would like to play higher up, whether that's with this club or not. To do that they've got to put in good performances with Darlington. Purcell's previous club was Shamrock Rovers, also the most recent club of latest recruit Ross Chisholm. The midfielder took the number of players used this season by Quakers to a staggering half century when he came off the bench for the closing stages of Tuesday's defeat to Port Vale. Chisholm was yesterday joined at the Arena by another Scot as defender Andrew Milne rejoined on loan from Leeds. He made two appearances before Christmas but an ankle injury, sustained in the 5-0 defeat at Torquay, curtailed his stay. After today Darlington are at promotion-chasing Bury on Tuesday and at Northampton Town next weekend, and Richardson added: We're running out of games and the last few haven't gone the way we would have liked. In the games to come we have to start doing something about it if we want to be in this league next season.''
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