Darlington are hoping to improve their defence with the addition of new centre-back Jake Cooper for their game at Blyth Spartans on Saturday.

Cooper, 20, has joined on loan from Rotherham United, as revealed in today's The Northern Echo.

He has experience of the National League North with Gateshead, plus he had a brief loan spell at Hartlepool United last season.

Quakers will be hoping that he will reduce the number of errors that have seen the defence concede seven goals in three league games, all of them defeats.

“He will give a massive boost to the lads, because it’s needed,” said manager Alun Armstrong. “I’m delighted about signing him. I enquired about him a few weeks back, kept persevering with it and luckily enough we’ve managed to get the signing done.

“He did extremely well at Gateshead and they spoke really highly of him. He might be youngish, but he’s already made his professional debut for Rotherham. He attacks the ball really well, he’s aggressive and he’s got a kick in him. Hopefully he’ll give us that little bit of steel that we’re lacking.”

He’ll go straight into Quakers line up, as Armstrong return to his previous club.

“We’ve just got to look forward,” he said. “As bad as it’s been, defensively I’ve looked at it and two of the goals in the three games, against Alfreton and Bradford Park Avenue, could have been given offside.

“It doesn’t take away from the fact how poor we were in dealing with certain things. We need to be better at it, and the lads know that. I had to change formation to stop things happening against Bradford. I thought that when we changed formation, it worked. We played a little bit more direct to the front lads and on another day we maybe should have got something from that last game.

“That would have only papered over a few cracks, so we have to get things right. They know exactly what’s required.

“Blyth are a totally different team to what they were last season, it’s not going to be a walkover. We know a lot of the players there, we know what they’re going to be like. These lads need to be right up for the game.

“There are a few young lads in the squad who need a bit of work. We cannot just keep knocking them because it will dent their confidence. It’s the job of me and the staff to bull the lads up. Yes, results haven’t been what we would have liked, but it’s not as if we’ve been outplayed by any teams. In all three games I think we’ve deserved something, but the results haven’t come, as simple as that – and that’s our own fault.

“We’re giving other teams a head start, come back and done well. We seem to go behind, heads drop, then it’s all hands to the pump. We know it’s there, but it’s finding the right formula. We have a lot of new players, and we have to give them a little bit of time. I can only give people so much time, otherwise it’s me who’s on borrowed time.

“That’s what happens, I’m not naïve to think that won’t happen. I’ve got too much respect for the club and the staff. I know it’s results-based. We are working extremely hard to try and strengthen this team and constantly work with these lads.

“It would be great to win at Blyth and get our season going. I loved my time at Blyth, but we have to go to war on Saturday, put everything on the table and see what we come out with.”

Blyth will include several former Darlington players: defenders Jordan Watson and Michael Liddle, midfielders Josh Gillies and Sean Reid, and striker Dan Maguire. The club’s record scorer, Robbie Dale, has also come out of retirement recently for manager Michael Nelson.

Blyth have had a good start to the season, with just one defeat in five league games.

Quakers have confirmed that their FA Cup second qualifying round tie at home to Chester will take place at Blackwell Meadows next Saturday, kick off 3pm.