ENDING the season on a high is Darlington’s ambition now, with three wins in the final week of the season the aim starting on Saturday at Bradford PA.

Three successive defeats have extinguished Quakers’ play-offs hopes, not mathematically but realistically as they are 13th and seven points adrift of seventh place.

Also to come are relegation strugglers Farsley Celtic on Monday at Blackwell Meadows, then the final match of the campaign in seven days’ time at Kidderminster Harriers, who will be preparing for the play-offs.

“We want to go out on a high by winning the last three games, that’s the target,” acknowledged manager Alun Armstrong.

“Lads are playing for contracts, there’s still some are hoping for another deal, plus we want a top-half finish.

“We’ve gone from a potential play-off place to 13th, and that’s how quickly this league can change.”

Bradford are 16th, with one win in seven games, though they’ve drawn with Gateshead, Kidderminster and Chorley in recent months, and Armstrong said: “They are always a tough game.

“They always work their socks off and they’ve picked up some of their better results against the fancied sides.”

Armstrong may not be able to travel to the match as he has been ill this week with a virus and was unable to attend training on Thursday evening. He will decide on Saturday morning whether he is able to attend.

Illness also stopped George Smith training on Thursday, while David Wheater is unlikely to play as he recovers from a groin strain. The centre-back is pencilled in to play on Monday.

Tyrone O’Neill is close to returning from a thigh problem that has sidelined him in recent weeks.

The on-loan striker has a year remaining on his contract at Scunthorpe United, who have been relegated from League Two.

Armstrong said: “He’ll probably be fit for Monday, and maybe for the bench on Saturday. It’s been a blow for the lad because he was just starting to get his fitness back, and then he got this injury so I haven’t been able to get him on the pitch.

“He’s got another year left on his contract, but he doesn’t know what’s going to happen next.”

Armstrong’s squad is taking shape with Jake Lawlor the latest to commit his immediate future to the club following Tommy Taylor and Ben Hedley.

Darlington remain in talks with on-loan Danny Rose. The midfielder will be leaving Grimsby Town this summer after the expiration of his contract.

“We’ve been in discussions for a long time and we’re just about there,” explained Armstrong. “Everybody can see how good he is, how important he is, and we look like a different team when he’s in there.”

Darlington are understood to have lodged a bid for Whitby Town striker Jacob Hazel, who scored 33 goals in all competitions this season.

“He’s of interest, and who wouldn’t be interested in him,” admitted Armstrong. “He’s scored over 30 goals this season and if you look at his record, it’s around 190 goals in over 300 games.

“There’s some good players in the leagues below, they just need an opportunity.”

Hazel scored twice in a pre-season match last summer against Quakers.