INTERNATIONAL football with Bermuda, or a non-league match at Brackley.

Those were the paths which lay ahead for Darlington’s international footballers Osagi Bascome and Justin Donawa earlier this week, embroiled in a tug-of-war that they had little say in.

Last Sunday Alun Armstrong, Quakers’ manager, appeared on BBC2’s FA Cup highlights programme during which he made it clear Bascome and Donawa were wanted for Darlington duty due to the lack of available players in his squad.

He was on the programme predominately to talk about the previous day’s dramatic FA Cup tie at Walsall, one which saw Bascome assist a late equaliser scored by Joe Wheatley.

Donawa was inches away from adding the final touch himself to earn a highly-anticipated televised replay on Wednesday, but it is one the Bermudans will miss after their country’s football federation turned down Quakers’ request to excuse them from international duty.

The pair have now joined up with Bermuda for a training camp in Texas, ahead of a friendly against Major League Soccer side DC United in the US Virgin Islands.

On Wednesday, the same day Darlington contest their FA Cup replay, Bermuda have a Concacaf Nations League fixture away to Mexico.

“It was tongue in cheek what I said on television, but I did say to them that we’re going to have to see if you can stay with us,” revealed Armstrong.

“They were happy with staying, and then when we got picked for TV they definitely did not want to go!

“We put a request in to the Bermudan FA, but they said they needed them. That was disappointing from our point of view, it might’ve been good publicity for Bermudan football to have two players on TV.

“We’ve got to plan without them and it’s such a shame for them.”

Clubs below Premier League and Championship can only have games called off due to international call-ups when three are picked for their country, so Quakers will have to do without them on Saturday at Brackley.

Also unavailable is Ben Hedley due to a one-match suspension for being sent off last week at Walsall, and Armstrong hopes Michael Liddle will have recovered from a groin strain in time for the replay.

The manager has moved to bring in attacking midfielder Jack Lambert on loan for a month from Scunthorpe United, a former Middlesbrough youth team player.

“He’s only 20, totally different to what we already have, a clever, technical footballer.

“It’s a loan for a month. He was injured at the start of the season and hasn’t been able to force his way in, so I spoke to Russ Wilcox on Wednesday and managed to get him in.”

The substitutes bench will be bolstered with players from the youth team.

Stevie Johnson, son of former Darlington striker Steven, and Mason Hurworth both trained with the squad this week.

Given the enforced absences and Brackley’s formidable home record – unbeaten in the league since last December - extending Darlington’s eight-match unbeaten run would be an achievement.

Armstrong said: “It does not come much harder than Brackley away, it is a difficult place to go to.

“They’re always an organised, strong side and they’re always in and around the play-offs.

“It is going to be tough, but we’re travelling on the Friday and that gives the lads enough recovery time instead of doing it in one day, because it does take a lot out of you.

“I know from my time as a player that the lads will have been thinking about the game on Wednesday, and I’ve got to try and get them out of that.

“We cannot be thinking about that and we cannot any injuries, that’s my worry.”

Brackley have not won in four matches, a run which includes a 0-0 home draw with Spennymoor Town and 1-0 FA Cup defeat at Hartlepool United.

But they are unbeaten at home in the league since December last year, a run which began just after Blyth drew 1-1 at Brackley.

“We frustrated the life out of them,” says Armstrong. “We were winning 1-0 until the 83rd minute.

“Hopefully we will give them a game, we’ve got to try and continue this unbeaten run.”