Tommy Wright has challenged Joe Wheatley to regain focus and prove he should return to Darlington’s starting XI.

The talented midfielder has been left out Quakers’ team for the last two games, and not even named among the substitutes for Saturday’s win over Curzon Ashton and Tuesday’s draw at Tamworth, though he did take part in the warm-up before each match. Having been a regular member of the starting XI for most of the season, the former Middlesbrough youth team player has been dropped soon after being selected to go on trial at the V9 Academy in the summer, and having been named on the standby list for the England C team, the non-league international squad.

“For the last two games and in training Joe has lost a little bit of focus. We have spoken to him in-depth about it,” explained Wright.

“When you’re a young lad and you’re getting the attention that he has been getting, it’s easy to start dreaming a little bit bigger, and that’s not fair on the boys. I think Wheats realises now that he’s really got to put in a shift.

“He’ll be judged on performances in training and if he performs he’ll get back in the team.”

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