DARLINGTON defender Tim Ryan is hoping to scupper Evan Horwood's hopes of facing hometown club Hartlepool United this weekend.

Horwood is champing at the bit at the prospect of playing against the club he supported as a boy.

But following Ryan's return to fitness, Horwood's place in the side is in under threat.

With David Wheater and Ian Miller set to continue their central defensive partnership, Ryan will challenge Horwood for the left-back spot after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Horwood missed the corresponding fixture in October when he cracked his fibula against Barnet a week earlier.

The 21-year-old rejoined Quakers on-loan from Sheffield United in January and has started the last eight games.

But, after Ryan returned to the side as a late substitute against Hereford at the weekend, Horwood faces a fight to retain his place against Pools.

"Tim has trained for the last two weeks and he's fine now," said Penney. "He was ill for the reserves friendly against Sunderland last week so we were never going to be in a position to start with him against Hereford.

"We just wanted to give him a bit of time under his belt and it's nice to have him back.

"I think with having Tim back and I think it had an effect on Evan because he played a lot better than he has been playing.

"He knows that there's someone breathing down his neck now and when we get Lee Jones back this week there will be competition for Sam Russell."

Given Quakers have not conceded in their last four games, Penney is likely to keep faith with Horwood for the game which will an attendance of close to it's 10,000 capacity,

The Quaker boss will also keep faith with Tommy Wright after the striker marked his return to the side with the winning goal in Saturday's win over Hereford.

The ticket office will be open 9am to 6pm everyday this week with only 700 tickets now available to Darlington fans for Sunday's game. If any remain it will also open Saturday, 9am to 4pm.