GOALS have been hard to come by for Harvey Saunders in a Darlington shirt since he agreed a move to Fleetwood Town in January, though he goes into Saturday's match at Boston United with his confidence boosted by scoring a hat-trick in midweek.

The 21-year-old joined League One club Fleetwood in a five-figure transfer during January, a move that saw him immediately loaned back to Quakers for the remainder of the season.

He trains with Fleetwood at the beginning of the week and at their training ground on Tuesday scored a hat-trick for their development team in a 5-1 win over Wigan Athletic.

The treble will have pleased his coaches at Fleetwood, as well as Quakers boss Tommy Wright, who remains an advocate of Saunders’ abilities.

Wright said: “He needed it because he’s been working hard and has had chances that he could probably have put away.

“Sometimes you need that boost of confidence to ultimately get you your next goal.”

Saunders scored seven times in his first 22 games this season, but has found the net once his last 16 Quakers games.

Wright added: “He has had a mini-drought, and hasn’t scored as many in the second half of the season.

“He’s a young lad and over the last couple of months has been training with a full-time club, his body will be getting used to that.

“He wants to finish his spell on a high and would love him to score in the last home game of the season, for him to get a farewell goal.”

Darlington beat Boston 1-0 in October, the Pilgrims scoring an own goal to which Saunders played an integral part, his speed taking him to the byline from where he crossed to the far post and Simon Ainge’s shot was bundled across the line by Ashley Jackson.

It was the day of the Boston home game that it emerged Reece Styche was to make a shock departure from Darlington to Alfreton, a transfer dictated by finances and one that has played a part in the team’s poor season.

Styche was one of Wright’s former Nuneaton players, and two others – Luke Trotman and Tom Elliott – have been bedrocks of the side having missed only one game each this season.

Trotman, in the running to be named player of the year, will return to the starting XI today, though the versatile Elliott has held a lower profile during a season in which he has been used in a number of positions.

“He’s played right-back, left-back left wing-back and in the centre of midfield,” said Wright.

“Me and Whitey compare him to Rob Purdie, who we both played with for Darlington. He was Dave Penney’s go-to man who could play anywhere and was a consistent performer in any position.

“Tom Elliott is similar. He’s a very fit lad and a manager’s dream because when there’s a hole to fill he does it effortlessly.

“He’s reliable. He’s one of them players that over the season he might get man of the match only once, but he’ll very rarely have a bad game.

“He was my manager’s player of the year at Nuneaton and has proven his worth this year by filling them holes and being consistent.”

Quakers’ other Elliott, striker Kit Elliott on loan from Huddersfield, made a favourable impression when he came off the bench last Saturday in a 2-0 win over FC United of Manchester and will be given his first start in one of the four remaining matches.

“He’ll get a start over the next four games,” said Wright. “The loan lads do not train with us on Tuesdays, and he has not trained on every Thursday because in some midweeks he has played a full 90 minutes for Huddersfield.

“It impacts your decision because he has not been around the boys and makes it hard to leave someone out who has trained with us.”

Ben Jackson, also on loan from Huddersfield, was some onlookers’ man of the match last weekend, and Wright added: “I knew Ben a lot more about because I’d seen him play, but I’d only seen clips of Kit that Huddersfield sent.”

Boston are 11th while Quakers are 18th, though there remains 12 points to play for and a chance to match last season’s 55-point haul.