OSAGI BASCOME and Justin Donawa have earned the praise of Darlington manager Alun Armstrong, who says both Bermudans have been a surprise package during the early stages of the season.

Bascome has taken his opportunity to impress in the centre of midfield, while Donawa has largely been used as a substitute in the first five matches during which time he too has made an impact.

However, as reported in The Northern Echo a week ago, Bascome and Donawa will be unavailable for two matches in September due to being selected for Bermuda’s doubleheader with Panama.

“Justin and Osagi will miss Blyth and Gloucester, which we have known was going to happen,” said Armstrong. “There’s another call-up in October as well.

“We’ve had the confirmation for September, and it’s a blow because I think they have surprised a lot of people with how they’ve adapted and what I like about them is that they’ve taken on instructions really well.

“Osagi was already here from last season and people didn’t really know what he was like. I needed to have a look at him in training and he was really good, but it was a case of getting him to play the way we want in matches.

“He has taken that on board. It has taken him time to adapt to not playing at a slow pace, and he enjoys keeping the ball but all I ask him to do is to try and move it forward instead of backwards, and I mean passing it, not lumping it.

“He’s been a nice little link between the back-four and the midfield and surprised quite a few people.

“He’s only a young kid, that’s what people have got to remember. Same with Justin.”

Donawa is likely to return to the substitutes bench when Darlington play at Altrincham tomorrow as Stephen Thompson returns to the starting XI.

Armstrong added: “I knew what Justin had when he came, he had raw pace and he is improving all the time in training. It’s the end product we’re working on, you cannot buy or teach that pace he has, it’s about getting him to use it as often as he can.”