SIMON DAVEY has explained that he dipped into Darlington’s youth ranks for Tuesday’s defeat to Notts County through necessity rather than choice, and says that relying so heavily on teenagers is not his long-term strategy.

The manager is keen on encouraging young talent, but an injury crisis means that a clutch of teenagers are being called on ahead of schedule.

Tuesday’s 5-0 loss saw Quakers finish the game with five players who have come through the club’s youth ranks, plus unused sub Dan Riley and 16-year-old striker Jordan Marshall.

He had to miss Tuesday’s afternoon’s youth game against Hartlepool United so he could make his debut as a substitute against title-winning Notts County, though Davey says playing first-team football offers a sharp learning curve.

“Playing in the first-team is how they grow up and it’s a great experience for them,”

said Davey, who will again struggle to name a strong lineup on Saturday. “There’s only so much youth team football you can play.

“The squad next year will have senior players, and the kids will be extras outside the main body of the squad.”

Darlington play their final away game of the season at Macclesfield Town on Saturday, and again Davey will have to call on a selection of teenagers.

He added: “If you look at the game at Burton Albion that we won a month ago, almost all of that team is now injured.

There’s only Andrew Milne, Gary Dempsey and Alan White left and that’s all due to injuries.

“Mor Diop and Tadhg Purcell both have really sore ankles so I don’t think we’ll see them on Saturday. Curtis Main has had an operation, I think Gary Smith is going to have one too on his ankle, Stuart Giddings has groin strain, Chris Moore a hip problem, Paul Arnison has a hamstring injury.

“You’ve only got to look at the bench on Tuesday to see the situation we’re in. Dan Riley and Rikki Bains have both come back from loan spells at Billingham Town and Gateshead and I also had to pull two other kids out of a youth fixture in the afternoon.

They did themselves proud on Tuesday but quality told in the end.”