CRAIG HIGNETT believes Darlington's promotion veterans can play a key role in their quest for League Two honours.

In winning promotion four times - twice with Middlesbrough and once with Blackburn and Crewe - Hignett has enjoyed moving up a division before and knows exactly what's required.

And Hignett insists the experience of others in the squad who have tasted promotion will prove valuable in the crucial months ahead.

"There are a few lads here who know what it's like to get promoted," said Hignett.

"It is a different type of pressure as the season goes on and it will be important that the lads like myself, Neil Maddison and Curtis Fleming try and help the other lads along with the experience we've had of going up."

Quakers re-affirmed their position in League Two's top seven with a comfortable 3-0 win over struggling Shrewsbury at the Williamson Motors Stadium on Saturday.

The victory moved Quakers up to fifth, extending their unbeaten run to five games and Hignett believes there isn't a better time to hit form with 17 games to go.

"Our aim is to stay in the top seven and the more points we can pick up the better it is for us," said Hignett.

"We're expected to win our home games but it hasn't gone like that for us this season and we've probably been better away from home.

"It's the run-in now and if you're going to get form then this is the time to hit it."

Hignett hit two second half goals on his return to the side at the weekend after Neil Wainwright had given Quakers a 28th minute lead.

"We're on a good run at the minute and when we score first it tends to give everyone a bit of confidence," said Hignett.

"When it's 0-0 or we're 1-0 down sometimes we tend to play with a bit of fear, but once we get a goal we look really fluent."

While Hignett took his tally to eight goals in 15 appearances at the weekend, the 35-year-old was happier with the way Quakers broke down Shrewsbury's defensive approach to the game.

Shrews boss Gary Peters opted for a 4-5-1 formation and Hignett said: "It's always nice to score, but it's more important that we get the three points.

"I don't think they were ever really in the game. They put ten men behind the ball and tried to make it hard for us.

"Teams have been doing that against us and nicking a goal, but when he score first we generally control the game."

And Hignett was delighted with the way Quakers bounced back after their 4-0 mauling at Gay Meadow last month.

He added: "The game at Shrewsbury was only three weeks ago and still logged in the brain so we wanted to give them a good doing.

"The gaffer told us about some headlines in their press calling us headless chickens after the result down there so that was the only incentive we needed to go out and beat them."

Despite his two-goal haul at the weekend, Hignett would prefer to resume his midfield duties when Quakers travel to fourth-placed Southend this Saturday. With Clyde Wijnhard sidelined with a hip injury Hignett partnered top scorer Alun Armstrong in attack.

"Playing up front is alright, but I prefer to get involved in the game from midfield," said Hignett.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm on the edge of the game, doing a lot of running without getting anything.

"It's a blow to be without Clyde, but we've shown that we have a squad which is capable of dealing with these things."

Hignett was back in the Quakers side after spending the previous two games on the bench as an unused substitute. The Liverpool-born playmaker has been struggling with a viral infection, picked up over Christmas.

"It was frustrating because the lads were playing so well that I couldn't get back in," said Hignett.

"It was great to be back, although it was tiring because it was the first time I'd played in three weeks.

"Hopefully, with another week's training I should feel a lot fitter for the Southend game. It's another big game for us because they're one place above us.

"We've shown that we can go to places like Scunthorpe and Northampton and get something so we will go into this game with no fear."

Read more about the Quakers here.