Darlington boss Tommy Taylor is facing up to a nightmare Christmas, with a string of players missing from action.

With four League games in ten days, Taylor has several players suspended or injured.

Defender Gary Caldwell has returned to Newcastle after his loan spell expired following Saturday's defeat at Plymouth, where bookings for Simon Betts and Phil Brumwell mean both will be suspended for the game at Bristol Rovers on December 29.

Still banned are Mark Ford (one match) and Barry Conlon (two) following their red cards at Scunthorpe, while Caldwell would have been suspended for the trip to Bristol Rovers after receiving his marching orders at the weekend.

The centre-half's red card - awarded for two bookable offences - was Quakers' fifth of the season while they've also picked up a mammoth 48 yellows.

Former Darlington winger Neal Heaney signed for Saturday's victors two weeks ago but was unable to pay against the Quakers, having been injured in training.

The Middlesbrough-born 30-year-old was part of the mass Feethams exodus of summer last year following the Wembley play-off defeat. But his 18 months at Dundee United were a disaster.

"I had a disappointing time at Dundee United and I just want to get playing again as soon as possible," said Heaney, who watched Saturday's game from the stands.

"I had a good time at Darlington and I've got nothing against them. I would have liked to have played whoever we were playing on Saturday. Neither side had a cutting-edge and I think a draw would have been a fair result."

Mark Robinson hopes his chances of regular first-team action haven't been put on ice by Saturday's big freeze, writes NICK LOUGHLIN..

Robinson was back in the Hartlepool side for Saturday's match at Bristol Rovers, which was abandoned after 12 minutes.

After sitting out four games after a hamstring twinge, Robinson was happy to get his chance.

"I was back in the team - and I thought I did OK in the few minutes we played,'' he quipped.

"I was just happy to be playing again. Now I hope the gaffer is going to stick with things next week.''

Robinson was the first Pool player out on the pitch for the pre-match warm-up and knew immediately the game was in doubt.

"Everyone was asking what footwear we should be wearing,'' he said. "Colin West said to wear short studs -Gordon Watson was wearing trainers, but the referee said he would give it a go.

"Micky Barron tried to take a free kick and only got about three meters on it because on his side of the pitch you couldn't stand up.''

Pool fans were either given a refund or a voucher, which can be exchanged for a refund at the club shop or sent to the club with a stamped addressed envelope.

The clubs have yet to set a date for the rearranged game.

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