After agreeing a permanent return to Darlington, Adam Mitchell is looking forward to stepping up to playing regularly in competitive football with promotion at stake.

There’ll be no more “tippy-tappy football”, as the former Sunderland youth team player describes playing in the academy system, after Mitchell signed a two-year contract with Quakers.

After being with Sunderland since 13, he left midway through last season, bringing to an end almost a decade with the club, before ending the campaign with Darlington where he played alongside his younger brother David, but promotion hopes ended in the play-offs.

A trial with Gateshead this summer came to nothing, so now his sights are fixed on going one further than last season with Quakers.

“I love being part of it at Darlington,” said the energetic winger. “In the under-21s at Sunderland there’s no men, it’s just tippy-tappy football. At Darlington you’re playing with and against men and you have to step up.

“The opposition at this level aren’t bothered, they’ll just kick you whoever you are. You’ve got to keep focused and concentrate on the game.

“I enjoyed last season. The play-offs were a bit disappointing, but I loved being involved in a promotion battle.

“It’s a fantastic club to be at. There’s a lot of fans, it will keep me fit, I’ll play games and hopefully I’ll get back up the leagues.”

Mitchell will be in the side that plays Quakers’ latest friendly today at Whitby Town (3pm), although he missed the club’s first warm-up games as he was hoping to impress Gateshead manager Gary Mills.

He explained: “I was annoyed not to get a contract. I put 100 per cent in at Gateshead and really thought I’d be kept on. He told me the reasons, I took it on the chin and then played for Darlington against Sunderland the day after I got told.

“We’ve always had this agreement that he wanted to sign me, but if something did come along then he was happy to let me go and try to get back into full-time football.

“To go on trial you’ve usually got to go for a week or ten days. They need to see you in training, they want to see your attitude and they want to see you in a game, but I’m over the moon to sign for Darlo.”

David has come through Quakers’ youth ranks and has had to be patient for his chance, though Adam is no doubt who the better of the two footballers is.

“We’ve played one game together so far, Wakefield away, and it was kind of weird, but it’s just a game of football.

“He’s 18, there’s a two-year gap so we hadn’t played together before. We used to play football in the street all the time, I was the better player without a doubt!”

There will be a new face in goal for Darlington today as both keepers Mark Bell and Peter Jameson are unavailable. Manager Martin Gray was yesterday awaiting confirmation from a keeper who will step in as an emergency.

There has already been one change in the goalkeeping department at the club this summer with former Hartlepool keeper Jim Provett replacing Tony Norman as goalkeeping coach.

David Dowson and Amar Purewal were unavailable for last weekend’s defeat at Billingham Synthonia, but both return today, while Gray expects both Terry Galbraith and Nathan Fisher to have shaken off minor injuries.

Graeme Armstrong will not play against his former club as he is on holiday, as is Jack Walker.

Admission is £6 adults, £3 Concessions and £2 under 18s.