Darlington skipper Craig Liddle has backed the club's young guns to come back stronger next season.

Liddle believes the likes of Clark Keltie, Ashley Nicholls and Ryan Valentine will return better players after coming through their first full professional season.

"We do have a young squad and for a lot of them this is their first real season," said Liddle.

"I know results haven't gone as we'd have liked but I think the young lads have been absolutely brilliant. Next season I expect they will be much stronger."

Quakers head to Southend tomorrow where a win will almost guarantee League safety, according to Liddle.

Against a Shrimpers side who have lost six of their last seven games, Quakers will not have a better opportunity.

Liddle said: "The teams below us still have games in hand so it's important we make sure we're safe as soon as possible.

"There'll certainly be a lot less pressure on us if we can go to Southend and get a win. That should see us safe.

"It's been a disappointing season but hopefully we can finish it on a high.

"Southend haven't been doing too well but that doesn't mean we go there and expect three points.

"They'll be desperate for a win just like us so it's going to be very hard."

While Liddle looks ahead to next season with renewed optimism he is quick to pinpoint where Quakers have gone wrong.

"I think inconsistency has been our biggest problem this season," said Liddle.

"We've shown that we're capable of beating any team in the division.

"We just have to make sure we do it on a more regular basis."

Winger Richard Hodgson is ruled out of tomorrow's trip to Roots Hall with a groin injury while Matt Clarke is still struggling with an ankle injury.

Barry Conlon serves the final game of his two-match ban against his former club as midfielder Clark Keltie starts a two-match ban.

Read more about the Quakers here.