DARLINGTON manager Alun Armstrong has told his players to win today’s home game against AFC Telford United for defender Nicky Hunt.

The 37-year-old former Bolton player briefly stopped breathing from a head injury when he fell backwards over another player near the end of the game against Boston United on Tuesday, and after intensive treatment on the field from physios of both clubs, he was taken to hospital, where happily a scan gave him the all-clear.

Armstrong, who was visibly upset at one point while he was looking on, gratefully thanked the physios, medical staff and stewards for their care and attention. He said: “Nicky fell over the back of one of their players, and it seems that he smacked his head on the floor. He was clean out, four of the lads shouted at the referee that it was a head injury.

“There were a few scary moments, not many people understood what was happening. His breathing stopped at one point, and that scared the life out of some people. Thankfully, the staff dealing with it kept their calm and their nerve, I don’t know what I would have done. I’m so thankful that he’s fine, we have to thank our physio, Danny O’Connor, and the Boston staff.

“I only had a couple of hours’ sleep on Tuesday night, and it was a relief at about five in the morning when I heard he’d been discharged. I spoke to Nicky’s dad, and he wants to thank everyone involved with the club for their help.

“It’s great news that Nicky is fine, but we must get straight back to work. It wasn’t a great performance on Tuesday, so we have to put it to bed and get the three points for Nicky. We owe that to him because he’s been exceptional since he came to the club. He’s a top professional, a top lad, and everyone at the club loves him. We have to go out and win these games for him whil he’s not playing.

“Boston were a good physical side, and we came up short. As poor as we were, I thought we had some good chances, but the little fine detail was missing that we had at Swindon in the FA Cup.”

Armstrong will decide before kick off on who to play in Hunt’s position alongside Alex Storey in the centre of defence, with Louis Laing and Jordan Watson under consideration to make their first starts of the season. There may be other changes as well as the manager faces up to the first of four league games before the Bristol Rovers FA Cup tie on November 29. Striker Luke Charman and defender Michael Liddle will both have fitness tests.

“Laingy and Jordan have been waiting for their chances to play, and the midfield might need freshening up,” said Armstrong. “I can’t complain about the effort of the lads on Tuesday night. Will Hatfield could be back in midfield - Dan Maguire had his first 60 minutes the other night and was shattered. It’s going to take a while to get him back to match fitness.

“It’s going to be difficult to keep all the players happy, but they’ve got to understand that we’ve still got a minimum of 41 games to play this season, depending on whether the league order a replay for the Boston game, and they’ll get chances.”

The National League board will make a decision about Tuesday’s game, which was abandoned with four minutes remaining. The league could decide that the result should stand or order a replay.