9:00am Thursday 24th April 2014
By Craig Stoddart
After a highly impressive first season with Darlington, Chris Hunter has displayed the potential to play higher up the football ladder.
That's the verdict of manager Martin Gray, who brought Hunter to the club from Shildon a year ago since when the 26-year-old has become a mainstay of the Darlington defence.
He's missed only six matches during a campaign in which he has made one of the centre-back spots his own, becoming a key member of a side which has conceded the joint fewest goals across the three Evo-Stik divisions.
Only three goals have been conceded in the past seven fixtures, coinciding with Hunter's return after missing most of March through injury.
"He's been outstanding this season and an excellent signing," said Gray. "He's a massive player for us and he's getting better and he's become the heart of our defence.
"His pace is an asset, he's one of the quickest in the squad when it comes to sprinting and I haven't seen anyone give him a rough ride, touch wood.
"He can go higher up, he's got the ability to play higher because he's powerful, he's quick and he wants to learn.
"He's hard to play against and he's got a great future with us."
Gray added: "We work with all of the players in training and he's like the others in that he wants to learn. He wants to better himself and see how high he can go.
"It would've been easy to stay where he was, that goes for all of the players, but they've come here to prove that they can do better and play at a higher level."
Hunter was one of seven players rested for Easter Monday's 5-1 win at Wakefield and Gray will need to decide how many, if any, of his key men return for Saturday's match with Burscough.
The game completes Quakers' league programme and will not affect their second position in the table, no matter what the result, giving Gray another opportunity to rest his first-choice players.
Hunter is assured of being selected on Wednesday, when Darlington host the play-off semi-final, tickets for which are now on sale to season ticket holders.
Following an announcement yesterday morning, they were made available yesterday evening at Blackwell Meadows, priced £9 for adults, £6 concessions and £4 children. Season tickets are not valid for the game and the match will be all-ticket.
Tickets will be on sale for season ticket holders at the following times and venues:
Today: 10am-4pm at Quaker Retail, Darlington covered market.
Today: 7.45pm at Blackwell Meadows (at the CIC annual meeting).
Tomorrow: 10am-1pm at Quaker Retail, Darlington covered market.
Supporters are reminded to take their season ticket with them to purchase a ticket.
Tickets will go on general sale at the fixture against Burscough on Saturday and also online.
Meanwhile, there will be a trophy and medal presentation after Saturday's match in recognition of Darlington finishing as divisional runners-up.
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