CONSIDERING the trials and tribulations of last season, a campaign of consolidation may have been an acceptable target among most Quakers' die-hards this time around.

But this is Darlington, and the norm rarely pays a visit to these parts.

Certainly, during the previous regime, the fans can testify that there were few dull moments.

Even after the dethroning of former chairman George Reynolds this year, Quakers continue to make the headlines - but now for all the right reasons.

It was during the summer that manager David Hodgson pledged his future to the club on the provision it was run professionally.

The appointments of a chief executive and a commercial manager provided further proof that the club was on the mend and on the right track.

Despite a sluggish start to the season - handicapped by administration and a wafer-thin strike-force - Quakers are playing catch-up in style.

After coming out of administration in September, Hodgson swooped to sign former Premiership trio Craig Hignett, Chris Armstrong and Clyde Wijnhard.

The deadly threesome have wasted little time in kick-starting their careers in League Two with Quakers.

Assistant manager Mark Proctor may not have suffered the club's dark days last season, but he has a fair idea of where they are heading now.

Proctor said: "We've had another good week of training. There is real feelgood factor at the club right now and long may that continue.

"In the last two or three weeks we have spoken privately about taking the club to the next level with the additions of the new lads.

"The coming weeks will tell us whether that level is between mid-table and the play-offs or higher."

Eighth-placed Quakers host Bury at the Williamson Motors Stadium this afternoon following back-to-back wins over Southend and Oxford.

Proctor added: "We know that we're capable of winning on Saturday and that could take us up to fourth in the table, which would be very nice.

"We must look to consolidate our last two wins with another three points against Bury.

"If we don't then it will be another false dawn and apparently there have been a few here.

"We're quietly confident but we also have a lot of respect for Bury and we know there are no easy games in the division.

"We are solid at the back and there is a feeling we can go places with the players we now have at the club."

Skipper Craig Liddle has returned to training following injury, but the influential defender is short of fitness and may spend a third game on the bench.

Liddle's rehabilitation to correct a leg problem has been hindered by a stomach strain he picked up last season.

"Lids, being Lids, wants to play," said Hodgson. "He is not 100 per cent fit and he will admit that. It's not fair on him and it's not fair on us to have him out on the pitch when he's not fully fit.

"He's not injured, but he does need more time to work on his fitness.

"We've all been there at that age, when, after so many years in the game, you're never 100 per cent fit."

Only League Two leaders Swansea have conceded more goals than Quakers this season.

But with defensive trio Curtis Fleming (knee), Joey Hutchinson (knee) and David McGurk (on-loan at York) all unavailable, Hodgson is well aware of where his side's frailties currently lie.

Joe Kendrick, Matt Clarke and Brian Close will form Quakers' back-line today and Hodgson said: "We know we could be stronger in that department, but the lads who have came in have done a very good job for us.

"We have thought about bringing somebody in on loan but we will decide on that next week."

Despite Sunday's win, Hodgson will make at least one change, with Hignett returning to the starting XI after a hamstring injury.

The former Middlesbrough man has scored twice in the three starts since joining Quakers in September.

And while Hodgson may have been tempted to remain unchanged, Proctor admitted a player of Hignett's ability cannot be ignored.

"Higgy contributes a lot to the team and he is a scoring threat so it would be difficult to leave him out if he was fit," said Proctor.

"It's difficult to change the team from Sunday but Higgy will come in."

Winger Neil Wainwright is ruled out for a further week with a hamstring injury.

Bury have doubts over midfielder Dave Flitcroft, who has a stomach bug. Gateshead-born striker Graeme Jones remains sidelined with a troublesome calf injury.

Seven-goal striker David Nugent will lead the Shakers attack