TO stick or twist is Alun Armstrong’s decision ahead of his team's game at Chester, as the manager mulls over resting some of his battle-weary players who have contributed to results which have elevated the team into the play-off positions.

Darlington are sixth after winning seven of their last eight league games, a sequence which began in December with a win against Chester at Blackwell Meadows.

Another win against fourth-placed Chester at the Deva Stadium, now known as The 1885 Arena, would surpass Tuesday’s terrific victory away to Guiseley, who were sixth before kick-off and gave Quakers a test of their mettle.

Darlington successfully came through that examination, but Armstrong reports that some of his players are “knackered”, with Louis Laing and Will Hatfield both nursing hamstring concerns, while Alex Storey has a groin problem which must be monitored.

The manager said: “We’ve got Chester away, Guiseley at home then Boston and Kiddy both away, so we’ve some really tough games and I’ve got to make my mind up what I’m going to do. If they’re knackered then they’re knackered, you can’t keep flogging them.

“Will has a tight hamstring, so is this a game when I might give some of the other lads a run-out?

“Thommo hasn’t started the last couple, David Atkinson has just come back and it would be a great game for him to play because he was a different class when he came on in the week, Omar could play in midfield.

“Do I need to freshen it up and keep lads fresh for the next game. I don’t want to flog them so that they’re knackered, or end up getting injured and then we’d be short of players again.”

Laing was substituted in the first half on Tuesday, Sean Reid dropping back to replace him and that would be the case from kick-off if Laing is unable to feature against Chester.

“We knew Laingy was struggling in the warm-up but we had to go with it because we didn’t have any other centre-halves,” explained Armstrong.

“But it was getting tighter during the game and the last thing I needed was for him to pull it, so we took him off.

“He says it’s better now so I think we might’ve caught it before it has got any worse, so that would be a massive bonus.”

Terry Galbraith suffered an ankle injury last weekend in a 3-0 home win against Alfreton Town, but Armstrong explained: “Tez is not as bad as we thought, Saturday might come too soon though.”

With Armstrong unable to bring in a left-back on loan to cover for the injured Michael Liddle, he had been concerned about Jordan Watson playing 90 minutes twice in four days given his past cruciate knee problems.

But the manager said: “Jordan is feeling a lot better than he usually does after playing two games in the space of four days. He did loads of work with Danny to strengthen up when he hasn’t been playing.

“I know he had a 20-minute spell in the first half on Tuesday, but that was sheer pressure from a very good player in Kaine Felix, who was using his pace.”

Felix scored Guiseley’s goal in Quakers’ 2-1 win, a performance Armstrong was delighted with.

“I said to Darren Holloway ‘that was unbelievable’. The way we worked, the way we dug in, because Guiseley were really at it. I don’t know if it was because of what Will had said previously in his interview, but they looked really fired up and I’d never seen them play like that before in any other game.

“They were aggressive, they were like Solihull in a way, and the first 15-20 minutes I don’t think they stopped running, they kept playing the ball forward and running at us.

“But we got the goal and it came at a great time because it knocked them back a bit.”

Adam Campbell put Darlington ahead with an early penalty, and it was not long before Laing was replaced by striker Gary Martin.

The manager explained: “I could’ve gone safe and put a midfielder on, but because of the pressure they were putting on I thought we should put the pressure back on them by putting Gaz up top with Cams and it worked.

“After the first 20 minutes we played some lovely football when we got the ball down.”

Chester have not conceded a goal in three league matches, but they suffered an embarrassing 3-0 FA Trophy defeat to Royston a fortnight ago, leading to joint-manager Anthony Johnson apologising to fans and saying: “Our performances were the worst since we took the job.”

Chester have this week signed ex-Salford City winger John Johnston from Altrincham, who say he has moved for a “substantial fee”. Craig Mahon has moved from Chester to Altrincham as part of the deal.