DARLINGTON today bid for their first home win of the season at the fifth attempt, boosted by the return of some key players.

A week ago they were without five players: Dom Collins, Terry Galbraith, Ben O’Hanlon, Joe Wheatley and Alex Henshall. With little in reserve a disjointed starting XI lost 1-0 to Alfreton.

But Wheatley has completed a three-match ban, O’Hanlon has recovered from a hamstring problem, Henshall is available after a groin issue and Tommy Wright will restore Simon Ainge to the forward line where he replaces Gibraltar international Reece Styche.

Galbraith remains sidelined with a calf problem, so Liam Hughes will move from midfield to the centre of defence, a position he has played in plenty of times for Cambridge United and Barrow.

Darlington’s opposition is second-placed AFC Telford United, one of three unbeaten teams in the division alongside leaders Chorley and Kidderminster Harriers.

In what has been a frustrating season so far for a team 18th in the table, it is Quakers’ third successive Saturday game at home, losing in recent weeks to Altrincham and Alfreton without scoring.

Seven days ago against Alfreton, however, Quakers were at least better than they had been a week earlier when Altrincham strolled to a 3-0 win.

Two days later Tommy Wright’s team drew 2-2 at Ashton United, a display that represented an improvement, but performances have not been good enough.

“We need to improve our home form,” admitted right-back Luke Trotman. “We felt we let the fans down massively against Altrincham.

“The fans are great here and the least they expect from us is hard work and I don’t think we gave that to them two weeks ago. Last week we grafted a bit more, but we need a win to get the fans buzzing.

“At Ashton we fought back to 2-2 and we played better than against Alfreton than we did against Altrincham. Last Saturday was better in parts but we still gifted them a goal in the first ten minutes and we need to iron that out.

“I thought we were better than Alfreton and they’ve gone third now. But it’s about picking up points – how well you play doesn’t matter compared to the result.

“There were five players not available. It’s not an excuse because we weren’t picking up that many points when they were in the team, but need to improve as a squad.

“The goals will come. When Alex Henshall comes back and our forwards are flying the goals will come. If we can keep it tight at the back we will improve.''

Alfreton scored inside the second minute, catching Quakers napping with a training ground throw-in routine, the fourth goal Darlington have conceded inside the first ten minutes this season.

They have conceded 18 times in eight games, and Trotman added: “We’ve been chopping and changing centre-backs, once we get a bit of consistency and get used to playing with each other I think we’ll definitely improve.”

Styche is on international duty with Gibraltar. He earned his second cap as a substitute on Thursday in a 2-0 defeat to Macedonia and tomorrow hopes to face Liechtenstein.

Trotman and Styche are part of the car school that travels north for matches and training, and while the striker often takes the attention due to his goalscoring it is the attack-minded right-back who has twice been man of the match this season.

He admitted, however: “I thought I was below average in the last three games. The Kidderminster game I wasn’t the best either, but we need to get our confidence back and play like everyone knows we can play.

“We’ve got some really good signings and our team is strong. We shouldn’t be where we are in the table, we should be up there.”

Telford have drawn three of their four away games, at Kidderminster, Guiseley and Leamington, with their only away win being 3-2 at Spennymoor Town.