9:00am Friday 28th March 2014
By Craig Stoddart
Only a couple of weeks since delving into the youth team for reinforcements, Darlington boss Martin Gray suddenly has a selection problem ahead of tomorrow's game at Ossett Town.
Youth team players, David Mitchell and Adam Cocks, were drafted in to be substitutes for the midweek fixture with Cammell Laird a fortnight ago, but Quakers' squad has since been bolstered by four new signings.
Midfielder Lewis Wing was the first arrival, from Seaham, and then came winger Adam Mitchell from Sunderland.
Striker Ian Ward made a promising debut as a substitute in Wednesday's win over Wakefield and he has been followed to Heritage Park from Durham City by defender Jack Walker.
He can play across the back four, though it is at full-back where Gray will most likely use the 23-year-old.
Also, Leon Scott and Chris Hunter are available for selection after recovering from injury, giving Gray plenty of options for tomorrow's match against eighth-placed opposition.
The manager said: "Leon and Chris are both fit now. I could've played them on Wednesday but chose not to, so we're getting stronger and I've got selection problems for Saturday.
"We need everyone fit to give us a bit of strength in depth because if we do get an injury or suspension I can look at the bench and say I'm really happy to put someone on.
"You need that to make sure you're challenging right until the end of the season."
Gray was pleased with Ward's input, the forward used as a second-half substitute as a replacement for fellow former Durham forward Amar Purewal, whose goal drought stretched to nine games.
"The two forwards who came on were great, Wardy and Nathan Fisher, they hit it off straight away," said the manager.
"Wardy held the ball up, he won his headers, and Fisher had one chance and scored.
"It was nice to be able to give Amar and David Dowson a rest and have good quality on the bench to replace them."
Ward, 27, scored against Quakers in pre-season last summer, and Gray added: "He's another option for us and it keeps people on their toes.
"I tried to get him a month ago, but couldn't and I tried again at the weekend when the Durham manager left.
"He's a big powerful lad, he's honest and he's exactly what we need at this stage of the season. He will relish playing in front of bigger crowds.
"It's an opportunity for him to step up to the next level. It's a challenge for him, to see if he can do it at this level and he'll believe that he can be a handful for us."
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