STEVE STAUNTON believes that the new year offers Darlington the opportunity to begin their season from scratch.

While the Quakers boss would love to turn the clock back to last August and begin the campaign afresh, he regards the chance to rebuild his side over the next few weeks as being the next best thing.

January is expected to be another month of upheaval at Darlington, with at least three new faces expected to arrive at The Northern Echo Arena and five players ending their loan spells. Staunton has used the enforced lay-off from league action to step up his quest for the type of characters who are fully committed to helping the club avoid relegation.

“Its no secret that we’re trying to bring players in and we ideally want players here who will be ours and not on loan,”

said Staunton, who had a striker and midfielder from the League of Ireland on trial at the club last month and also hopes to add a couple of defenders to his ranks.

“If we have to go down the loan route again then so be it, but we’re certainly trying to get two or three permanent signings in, until the end of the season at least, who will be hungry for the club and will want to get us out of the bottom two.

“I actually see the postponed games as a blessing in disguise. Don’t get me wrong they haven’t helped the club financially and the people who have helped to clear snow off the pitch will have been pretty disappointed not to have seen any football at the Arena over Christmas.

“But I see the new year as a new season and, with some new faces around, I’d like to think we can make a renewed bid to start bridging the gap between us and the teams above us.”

He continued: “It’s difficult for fans to forget about what’s happened in the first half of the season, but we want to start afresh and have a right good go.

“It has been tough and the fans have suffered, but we need their support if we’re to have any hope. Hopefully the new signings will steady things a bit and I’m sure that will help us on the field.”

Following Steve Foster’s assertion this week that he wants to resolve his contract dispute with the club, Staunton is in no doubt that the ball is firmly in the veteran centre-back’s court.

The defender is at loggerheads over a clause in his contract that entitles him to a longer deal should he start two more matches.

“I spoke with Steve over the Christmas period and there is nothing more we can do as a club,” said Staunton. “He wants to play, we want him to play, but only he can take the clause out of his contract.

“The club has made a decision not to put itself in a financially difficult position.

“Fossie (Foster) has remained professional and has kept himself in shape, so he’d be available for selection and he wants to play, but only he can decide if he wants to or not by removing the clause.”