Darlington's goalkeeping crisis took another unexpected twist yesterday when on-loan goalkeeper Andy Lonergan was forced to return to Preston after suffering a knee injury.

The England under-20 shot-stopper, signed only last week on a month's loan, was sent back to Deepdale after taking a knock in the 2-2 Boxing Day draw at Carlisle.

Caretaker boss Mick Tait was last night finalising a deal to bring Middlesbrough youngster Sam Russell to the club.

The 20-year-old has agreed to come to Feethams and Tait hopes to complete the deal before today's midday deadline.

If, as expected, Russell does sign on the dotted line, he will become Quakers fifth goalkeeper to be used this season after Andy Collett, Chris Porter, Michael Ingham and Lonergan.

Lonergan was signed last week after Ingham was recalled by Sunderland, while first-choice keeper Collett is still two weeks away from a return, leaving Porter as Tait's only available goalkeeper.

Ingham made three appearances and Lonergan two before their loan spells were cut short.

"When you have a goalkeeping problem you tend to find it escalates like this but we just have to get on with things," said Tait.

"Sam has agreed to join us for a month, we just need to sort out some paperwork."

Tait yesterday welcomed the news that skipper Craig Liddle's red card at Hull had been overturned following an appeal.

"It's great news but Craig shouldn't have been sent off in the first place," said Tait.

"The referee refused to back down but thankfully for us the appeals panel have shown some common sense."

With a gruelling schedule of three games in six days Tait made a number of changes for the Carlisle game.

And the caretaker boss expects to reshuffle again for the visit of Torquay.

"I made the changes I thought were necessary and there'll be one or two players back in contention tomorrow," said Tait.

Full-backs Ryan Valentine and Simon Betts, who were rested on Boxing Day, are expected to return as Quakers play their second game in three days.

With the exception of goalkeeper Collett and long-term injury victim Mark Kilty, Tait has a fully fit squad to choose from.

The Quakers squad had a light training session at their Durham-based headquarters yesterday, where Tait revealed his players had reported no ill-effects after the game at Brunton Park.

"I've had a word with the players after training and they all said they felt fine," said Tait.

"I thought they'd be all really tired this morning but they're a fit bunch of lads and they're all looking pretty good for the Torquay game.

"We had a light training session and everyone's came through that ok. We certainly could have done without such a heavy pitch but we have to play on whatever we get."

Torquay on the other hand arrive in good shape after their Boxing Day derby clash with Exeter was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

Despite the 350-mile trip from Devon, Tait believes Leroy Rosenior's side have the slight upper hand.

"I know they have a long journey but they had their game called off on Boxing Day so they'll be a lot fresher than our lot," said Tait.

"They've been fortunate enough to have a week between games while we haven't.

"It will be a good test of character and resolve for our players."

Torquay, who in recent years have struggled at the wrong end of the table, are enjoying one of their better campaigns and are just one place beneath a play-off spot.

Quakers have failed to beat The Gulls in their last three meetings and Tait is expecting another tough encounter today.

He said: "They've done very well this year so we're expecting a hard game.

"Saying that, every game is going to be tough in this division and you only have to look at the league table to see how tight things are.

"Everybody's beating everybody else so there isn't an easy game.

"All we can do is make sure we're fully prepared."

Torquay will be without top scorer David Graham who is suspended.

The 13-goal striker was due to complete a two-match ban against Exeter but must now sit out today's game after Thursday's postponement.

Alex Russell is also banned, while goalkeeper Kevin Dearden continues in goal in the absence of the injured Arjan van Heusden.

* On-loan striker Richard Offiong yesterday had his loan extended for a further month after notching four goals in five games since arriving from Newcastle at the end of November.

* Striker Barry Conlon will be suspended for three games after his sending off against Macclesfield last week.

He will miss the FA Cup third-round tie with Farnborough next Saturday as well as the trip to Oxford a week later and the home game with Kidderminster.

* Tickets are now available for the Farnborough game. Prices are: North Terrace adults £10, concessions £6; South Terrace adults £9, concessions £5; East Stand adults £13, concessions £8.