Crewe Alex: Gradi wields axe as injury ends Gardner hopes
CREWE have released former Celtic trainee Dan Gardner after the teenage striker failed to convince Dario Gradi he was worth a long-term deal.
The Alex boss says Gardner's ambitions have been hit by injury and the emergence of Ajay Leitch-Smith.
ON HIS WAY: Danny Gardner has been released after failing in his bid to win a long-term contract at Crewe Alex.
Crewe-born Leitch-Smith is a second-year professional who has struggled to establish himself in the first team.
The 20-year-old was handed a debut by Gudjon Thordar-son last September, but was confined to reserve team action before excelling on loan at UniBond Division One North outfit Curzon Ashton.
"I was expecting to sign Dan," admitted Gradi. "I'd have given him another game before the end of the season, but that's not possible now.
"I've reluctantly let him go. If I'm bringing a striker in I've got to feel he's going to make a real challenge.
"Ajay has been playing well at Curzon Ashton and I can't sign him and Dan. So while Dan's not done badly, he's not done enough for me to get excited about."
Gardner was signed on a short-term basis after a successful trial with North West Counties side Flixton.
The 19-year-old made his debut at Port Vale and got another run-out from the bench in last weekend's 5-1 win over Accrington, but an ankle injury has ended his chances of progress.
Leitch-Smith is expected to be on the bench at Rotherham today (3pm)
Ajay OK for Dario: Page 63