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Darlington linked with seven-season Premier League player

Darlington are getting some attention on social media after being linked with a seven-season Premier League player this week.

The National League North are reportedly understood to be considering a move for 34 year old defender David Wheater who is currently a free agent after being released by Oldham Athletic in March.

He had played 35 times for the Latics and scored four goals in the 2019/20 campaign, after arriving from Wanderers in the summer of 2019.

Wheater also turned out for more than 230 appearances for Bolton Wanderers and scored 16 goals after joining the club from Middlesbrough in 2011.

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A post shared by David Wheater (@bigwheatz31)

The Northern Echo claim that newly promoted League Two side Hartlepool United monitored the situation of Wheater, but that no talks took place between the player and manager Dave Challinor.

Since then, Darlington have come in, considering a move for the player who previous spending part of the 2006/07 season on loan at the Quakers when they were in League One.

Wheater has earned himself up more than 400 appearances so far in his playing career and found the back of the net 35 times.

Two weeks ago, Craig Stoddart of the Northern Echo stated: “Darlington badly need an older head to marshal the defence. David Wheater would fit the bill, but should he decide against dropping into non-league he would far from the first to say no to Armstrong this summer.”

David Wheater himself said that a nightmare second season with Oldham Athletic was worse than going unpaid for eight months with Bolton Wanderers.

The defender was due to extend his eight-year tenure with the Trotters, but uncertainties over the club’s future led to his move to Boundary Park in the summer of 2019.

But, in an honest interview, he explained a delayed first monthly wage was the start of a catalogue of personal catastrophes with the club.

Asked what was worse – what he went through with Bolton or a turbulent time with Latics – he said: “This (Oldham), 100 per cent.

“We didn’t get paid for eight months in the end but it was nowhere near as bad as what was going on here, for me personally anyway.”

Asked if he regretted signing for Latics, he added: “I regret not signing for Bolton.

“I would have had to wait a month and there was no guarantee it was going to get bought. It did, and look at them now. I could still be there now.”

But, speaking to BBC Radio Manchester, Wheater admitted it was not all bad at Boundary Park.

“I could play footy for anyone and I’d enjoy it. I met great people there. All the staff on the coaching side were brilliant,” he said.

“The people in the club were lovely.”


He is a centre back, although he is capable of playing at right back as well, and has plenty of experience, starting his career back in 1997 as a youth then earned his first pro deal at Middlesbrough in 2004 having graduated through the club’s youth teams.

He had three loan spells away from Middlesbrough during the 2006–07 season; at Doncaster Rovers, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Darlington (loan). An injury to Jonathan Woodgate at the start of the following season saw Wheater become a regular player for Middlesbrough, and he would make a total of 140 league appearances for the club before switching to Bolton Wanderers in January 2011.

Wheater has represented England at under-16, under-17, under-18, under-19 and under-21 levels. Wheater was called up to the senior side in 2008 but did not play.

Youth career
1997–2004 – Middlesbrough

2004–2011 – Middlesbrough – 140 games (9 goals)
2006 → Doncaster Rovers (loan) – 7 games (1 goal)
2006 → Wolverhampton Wanderers (loan)
2007 → Darlington (loan) – 15 games (2 goals)
2011–2019 – Bolton Wanderers – 212 games (15 goals)
2019–2021 – Oldham Athletic – 34 games (4 goals)

National team
2002–2003 – England U16 – 2 games (0 goals)
2004 – England U17 – 7 games (0 goals)
2004 – England U18
2005–2006 – England U19 – 7 games (0 goals)
2007–2009 – England U21 – 11 games (1 goal)

Fans reacted as Darlington are linked with the seven-season Premier League player…

@tonywaters: @BigWheatz31 You fancy coming for a pre-retirement wind down at Darlo for a season or two big man?

@ForeverAYellow: Please make this happen

Peter Webb: Would be class to see him back at Darlington again

Louie Barker: Ok I’m definitely here for this, imagine the amount of shithousery from him at that level of football

Ollie Renshaw: He’d still do well in League Two imo, would be some coup for Darlo

Si Sullivan: Now this is interesting

Holly Tibault: Hope Wheats makes the right decision here, you know it makes sense

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