NEW signings Liam Hatch and Graeme Armstrong will both line-up for Darlington in their first pre-season friendly this afternoon.
Martin Gray takes his side to Newcastle Benfield to provide the opposition in Andrew Grainger’s testimonial (3pm).
Grainger joined Benfield ten years ago after leaving Quakers, where he was part of Gray’s youth league-winning team, and Quakers boss admitted he jumped at the chance to be part of the game.
“It’ll be a big day for Andrew,” Gray said. “He was part of the squad that won the youth league, which is the only time the club has won the competition. He’s a great lad, he’s travelled the world playing football and when Benfield asked me a year ago if we’d take part in his testimonial my answer was always going to be a yes.
“We’ve been back in training for two weeks so it’s nice to finally have our first competitive game since last season. It will be a full first team game. We’ve got today’s game and then Northallerton on Tuesday before Saturday’s game with Sunderland so it’s a big chance for us to ramp things up ahead of that.
“It’s also a chance for our fans to see the new lads and to see us play in the new home top.”
It will be the first opportunity for Quakers fans to see Hatch after he returned to the club on a one-year deal earlier this summer having left Gateshead at the end of last season. Armstrong will also make his Darlington debut following his move from Whitby Town, but Tom Portas misses the game as he is on holiday.
“Liam and Graeme will both play. Tom’s away, but will be back for Tuesday. Liam probably didn’t expect to pull on a Darlington top again, but he’s been a real breath of fresh air and he’s a great player to have in the squad.”
Hatch, Armstrong and Portas are Gray’s only summer signings so far, but the Darlington manager revealed he is still in the market for more additions to his squad.
He said: “We’re still looking to add one or two players to the squad. The players in question are currently on trial at other clubs so we’ve just waiting to see what happens there, but hopefully we can add to the squad before the start of the season.”