MICHAEL LIDDLE’S knee ligament injury creates a vacancy in the Darlington defence that David Atkinson will fill on Saturday after returning from a foot problem.

The duo, both among Alun Armstrong’s six summer signings from Blyth Spartans, will exchange places with Liddle now in the treatment room and Atkinson slotting in at right-back for the match at Altrincham.

Liddle is expected to miss three matches, and has been pencilled in to return in the game against Blyth on September 4.

“It is not as bad as we thought,” said Armstrong.

“He’s been walking fine on it and he says it’s feeling a lot better every day, which is great news.

“It’s a grade one or two tear so you’re probably looking at three weeks out maximum. If he’s back for the Blyth game then great, if not it’ll be the week after.”

Liddle sustained the injury last Saturday during the 2-0 home win over Southport, and Armstrong added: “As he headed the ball their kid clattered into him, which I thought was a foul, and when he landed he jarred his knee.

“We’re having such bad luck with these injuries. Fingers crossed he’s only out for a week or two.”

Liddle joined the club as a left-back but had been playing on the opposite flank as cover for Luke Trotman, who sustained a long-term injury in the second match of the season when rupturing an Achilles tendon.

Also out of action for the foreseeable future is Jamie Holmes, who has cruciate ligament injury.

Armstrong explained: “Trots had his operation on Tuesday, so that will probably be six months from the time he’s had it. Holmesy has been to see the consultant who told him he does need an operation so he’s waiting on the PFA to help him out financially with that.

“The silver lining is that Atky is back. He probably hasn’t trained as much as he would’ve liked to before he gets back into the swing of things.

“He’s going to have to go straight into the deep end, but I’ve no qualms there because he looks after himself.

“He’ll fill in at right-back for us if I play a back-four. It depends on how he gets through training tonight, I’ll sit down with him afterwards, and we have got options to play a back-five of needed.”