STEPHEN THOMPSON goes straight into the Darlington side that looks to kick-start their season at the second attempt this evening at Spennymoor Town.

He was unavailable on Saturday when Darlington lost 2-1 at home to Curzon Ashton, and was sorely missed as Quakers laboured, lacking width and a creative spark.

Manager Tommy Wright says it is a boost to have Thompson in his starting line-up for the game with Moors, who started their campaign with a 0-0 draw at Chester.

“Stephen Thompson comes back from holiday will give the lads in that dressing room a boost,” said Wright.

“He’s not only a key player for us, he’s also an experienced lad, he knows what derbies are about and he will definitely strengthen us on Tuesday.

“I’m looking forward to welcoming him back to the group because we did miss him on Saturday.

“It was obvious we had to switch to 4-4-2 and we did, but we were playing Harvey Saunders out on the right and he is not a right-winger, so I felt a bit sorry for him.”

Ben O’Hanlon’s suspension for receiving a red card on Saturday does not start until this weekend, when Darlington travel to Brackley.

He was sent off for handball when conceding a penalty against Curzon, but Wright had no qualms with the decision by referee Andrew Kitchen.

He said: “I wouldn’t say he dived to save it, but the ball did strike his hand and he’s deemed to have impeded someone trying to score a goal, so from that point of view I would say it’s a red card, no complaints.

“We will miss Ben at Brackley, he will be able to play on Tuesday, but he will miss out on Saturday and that presents us with a problem.

“Obviously Terry Galbraith can cover at left-back, but with Jonny Burn being injured it could highlight a bit of uncertainty for us.”

Summer signing Burn has a back problem that is likely to need a scan, so he missed out on Saturday, a game that saw Wright start with a 4-3-3 formation but is bound to consider switching to 4-4-2 this evening.

Darlington had lacked width before the tactical switch, but they were unable to produce an equaliser.

“It’s a long season and we are going to lose games at some point,” added Wright. “Whether you lose your first one, your last one or one in the middle at some point you’re going to lose.

“We will lose more games between now and the end of the season, that is a fact.

“We lost at home and it is disappointing, the lads were very dejected afterwards and they’ve all got to pick themselves up quickly. We’ve got a derby on Tuesday and we need everyone at it.”

One player certain to start this evening is goalkeeper Jonny Maddison, who had a mixed fortunes on Saturday, but ultimately showed his abilities with some good saves including a penalty stop.

While he had played a part in Curzon’s equaliser, fumbling a cross over the line under pressure from a defender, he swiftly recovered to demonstrate how good a signing he is likely to prove.

“The tough thing with a goalkeeper is that you can never really make up for making a mistake, I was egging on the boys to score for me,” he said.

“It is a positive, making a penalty save and making a few other saves too, I could look at it from that point of view, but I’m still disappointed with the first goal.

“With penalties it’s a confidence thing. I saved one in Eindhoven so that gives you confidence going into your next one, and it’s mind games as well.

“On Saturday I was trying to get into the striker’s head, telling him that I knew where he was going, the same old goalkeeper malarkey really.

“If it gives you an edge then great, thankfully it did on Saturday.”