ALUN ARMSTRONG knows what he wants for Christmas - an extension to Jake Cooper and Jake Lawlor’s loans at Darlington.

The defenders have bolstered an area of the team that was lacking at the beginning of the season, and so has permanent signing Danny Ellis.

But Cooper’s final match of his temporary transfer from Rotherham United will be Boxing Day’s game at Spennymoor Town, while Lawlor’s loan from Hartlepool has four fixtures to run.

“Jake, Danny Ellis and Jake Lawlor have made a massive difference,” said Armstrong.

“What I love about Danny Ellis is his aggression. He doesn’t wait for anything to drop or for someone else to take responsibility, he’ll attack the ball.

“Jake’s loan is up after the Spenny game but I want to keep him and Jake too. His loan is up after the Farsley game “We’re in discussions with their clubs. They might want to play higher but I want to keep them.

“Coops looks so solid at right-back when we’ve put him there with Kallum Griffiths being injured.”

Cooper and Lawlor both started in Quakers’ most recent game, a 1-0 win that toppled AFC Fylde from the top of the table two weeks ago, and are likely to keep their places on Sunday.

Danny Rose is back in contention after recovering from Covid, but he will not start on Sunday with Joe Wheatley having taken his place against Fylde.

“Danny is back but he’ll be short on fitness,” said Armstrong. “Wheats has had a really tough time. One of his good friends died and then he couldn’t get back in the team because he’d lost his fitness, and was miles off sharpness wise in training, so he had to bide his time.

“Rosey got Covid so his opportunity came and he took it with both hands.”

Sunday’s fixture marks the beginning of Quakers’ festive schedule; three league games in seven days which includes a home match with Gateshead on Tuesday (3pm) before hosting Spennymoor on New Year’s Day.

Three games will be as many league matches as Darlington have had since mid-November. It’s been a barren spell, much to Armstrong’s frustration.

“It’s not been ideal,” he admits. “Chorley agreed to play us, to bring a game forward, but we couldn’t play at Blackwell for one reason or another, so that was disappointing.

“So we had a training session instead down at Catterick on Saturday and the lads did a hell of a lot of work.

“They’re not getting any time off! I gave them the option of training Christmas Eve during the day or the Thursday evening as normal, and they wanted the evening.

“This week’s sessions will be on team shape and organisation, but if you look at the Fylde game I don’t think you could complain about any player.”