DARLINGTON striker Jake Cassidy will return to Alun Armstrong's squad when Quakers face Gateshead in their second derby of the Christmas holiday at Blackwell Meadows today.

Cassidy has now served his three-match ban for his dismissal at Boston in November, and he will almost certainly be back in the starting line-up to face third placed Gateshead, who are managed by former Newcastle United centre-half Mike Williamson.

Assuming he returns today, Cassidy will be partnering Luke Charman, who was dismissed in the local derby at Spennymoor.

Quakers intend to appeal against their leading scorer's red card at the Brewery Field, and are gathering evidence to support their appeal.

Darlington boss Alun Armstrong said: “The lads did us proud on Boxing Day after everything that had happened on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with Covid. We just want to play football and get games played.”

Midfielder Will Hatfield is missing this afternoon, while defender Jake Cooper and midfielder Joe Wheatley are both doubtful.

Gateshead, meanwhile, have only lost twice in National League North this season, and will include former Darlington striker Adam Campbell in their squad.

Their scheduled game at home to Blyth Spartans on Boxing Day was postponed because of a waterlogged pitch.

Spennymoor have a local derby at Blyth today, and they welcome back midfielder Brad Abbott after suspension.

Joint manager Anthony Johnson was satisfied with a point from the 1-1 draw with Darlington on Boxing Day and said: “I was pleased with the way that we performed with ten men after Stephen Thompson was sent off. We showed plenty of resilience.”

Blyth are second from bottom and battling for National League North survival.

They recently appointed Terry Mitchell as their new manager following the departure of Michael Nelson, who has been appointed as assistant to Graeme Lee at League Two side Hartlepool United.