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Quakers play penultimate friendly
Darlington manager Martin Gray has promised to field a strong side for this evening's friendly with Bishop Auckland as pre-season preparations near their conclusion.
Quakers play their Heritage Park landlords in their penultimate friendly before travelling to Blyth Spartans on Friday.
Their campaign in the Evo-Stik First Division North begins a week on Saturday, and, having experienced a mixed set of results in pre-season so far, Gray is eager for a good show.
His team showed defensive frailties in Friday's 3-3 draw at Durham City, when they fielded a trialist at centre-back as they seek to plug the gap created by Gary Brown's ankle injury.
Gray, who could field another trialist this evening, said: "The Bishop game on Tuesday, we will treat that like a league game and I will demand that from the players.
"The last two friendlies are very important so that we get the mindset right.
"Last pre-season when we were at Durham we dominated with the tempo of the game and e out-muscled them. We didn't do enough of that on Friday.
"We had a little spell in the second half, but on Tuesday I'll be looking for an improvement throughout the squad and starting to get right on it."
Striker Andy Johnson will face his former club, for whom he bagged 99 goals in two seasons before joining Quakers.
He netted against Durham as did David Dowson, but he may miss out this evening due to an ankle injury, becoming one of several players to have suffered a knock during pre-season.
"It's been difficult right throughout pre-season," added Gray. "Lads have had little niggles and others have been away on holiday. Stephen Thompson was away for 17 days and got back on the morning of the Durham game. If he'd played the full game he could've pulled a hamstring or a calf. It was good to get him back, he got an hour under his belt.
"Chris Hunter got cramp, so we had to take him off, Craig Gott is not 100 per cent fit still, so you've got to protect your players, but we are down to the bare bones.
"We've got four or five players injured who are potentially first-team players, including Gary Brown and it'd be a blow to any team losing your captain.
"He's a leader and a voice, so we've got to prepare for six weeks minimum without him.
"Terry Galbraith is a big player for the club, but he couldn't play on Friday and David Dowson has got a slight ankle problem so he'll probably not be available for Tuesday. We're protecting them as best we can."
Midfielder Jonny Davis is not available due to being on holiday.
Bishops are classed as hosts this evening with admission £6 for adults, £4 concessions and £2 for under 16s.
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