Darlington's long-term existence may remain in question, but their youth team hope to be the future of the club and take centre stage this evening.

They have an FA Youth Cup tie at home to Shrewsbury Town (7pm) with the prize for the winners a third round game at Newcastle United.

That would be a fitting reward for Craig Liddle, Quakers' head of youth, who is currently combining his position with that of caretaker manager.

He is the club's only coach and admits that having his workload being doubled is taking its toll. However, in contrast to the troubles affecting the club's senior pros both on and off the pitch, the youth team are in fine form having won 12 or their last 13 matches in all competitions.

Liddle said: "When I took the youth team training session this morning, it was like a breath of fresh air.

"The kids are on a high. They're like me, they can't wait to get into training and that's what happens when you win a run of games. At whatever level, if you're winning every week you can't wait to go training.

"In the morning they do their conditioning and fitness work and I take them in the afternoon, but it's difficult at the moment because I'm having to be everywhere.

"The first team are in Norton so I drive across there in the morning, then to Durham for the youth lads and then down to Darlington to be at the stadium. I'm just about surviving.

"It's the youth team that's keeping me going at the minute, what with all the off-the-field stuff going on."

Although he is having to work twice as hard as usual, Liddle has received positive feedback from the first team players who, he reports, are enjoying his sessions.

He said: "The first team lads have responded well to my training and I've got to give them credit for that.

"They've told me that they've enjoyed it and thought it was brilliant so I hope that's the case.

"They worked really heard at the end of last week and again today. I'll work them hard at the beginning of the week as I want to get some more fitness into them for Saturday."

The incentive for winning this evening could not be greater for Liddle. The Chester-le-Street-born former centre-back is a Newcastle supporter and so too are some of his team.

He added: "There's a lot at stake. It would be great to take a team up there, for the lads to play at St James', and to take on an academy team. Their budget must be ten or 15 times what I have to work with."

The winners of the match will play at St James' Park in December, but after tonight Liddle will begin preparations for this weekend's game at Ebbsfleet United when he is likely to again be in the dug-out.

Liddle remains as caretaker as chairman Raj Singh has delayed naming a successor to Mark Cooper, sacked three weeks ago, while he concentrates on resolving matters regarding the ownership of The Northern Echo Arena and surrounding land.

He also wants to reduce the money being spent on the first team squad's wages, so more outgoings are expected this week and several players have been the subject of inquiries.

But Exodus Geohagon's proposed move to fellow Conference club Mansfield Town has been put on hold though, as Dagenham & Redbridge have have made their interest known and the defender would prefer a swift return to the Football League.Supporters are asked to note that kick-off this evening is 7pm and not 7.30pm.