Darlington's David Brightwell says the Quakers still have a great chance of reaching the play-offs this season, despite falling to 12th position having occupied seventh at the beginning of October.

Quakers are now six points adrift of seventh position and, like their nightmare October, the forthcoming four league games in nine days in the hectic Christmas period will go a long way to influencing their season.

During October Darlington faced the division's top sides and lost all four league games, dropping to 14th position, a sequence which resulted in Gary Bennett stepping down as manager.

"We've won four out of our last six games and we can be reasonably pleased," said Brightwell.

"The league is so open that if any team can go on a run in the second half of the season, like Hull managed last year, they will be right in the frame.

"Plymouth are the only team who have strung any sort of consistency together so far this season and I think they, Luton and Hull will be promoted automatically, with any four from ten making the play-offs."

Brightwell has been a transformed figure this season, becoming a tower of strength at the back despite playing alongside five different defensive partners during Darlington's injury-ravaged season.

The tall centre-back has improved immeasurably since arriving in February from Hull City, and says new boss Tommy Taylor is working everybody hard.

He said: "We certainly don't have many days off and we work really hard, especially on team shape and pattern of play. He's very organised and lets people know if they aren't doing the job required. He is certainly a forceful character."

Despite his improved form, Brightwell admits he'd be satisfied enough to still be in football next season as his contract expires this summer.

"I'd just like to stay in the game," he confessed. "I'll be 31 then and it is becoming harder each season to keep your job.

"Good quality players are filtering down from the top two divisions.

" Last season Hull finished in the play-off positions but there are players such as Jon Witney and Gary Brabin, who played a lot of games for them, who still haven't been able to fix themselves up with a league club this season."

Read more about the Quakers here.