THE impressive performances of Aynsley Pears in goal mean that it was not a difficult decision for Darlington to extend his loan from Middlesbrough until the end of the season.

He arrived in an emergency last month when James Talbot picked up a suspension, and has now usurped the fellow loanee to become No. 1.

Talbot, on loan from Sunderland, collected a three-match ban when sent off in the closing stages of a match at Alfreton, conceding a penalty which the host team scored and the game finished 1-1, leaving Quakers boss Tommy Wright needing another goalkeeper.

Pears, who turns 20 in April, has played the past four matches, making some excellent saves and keeping two clean sheets including one in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Bradford Park Avenue, and Talbot’s loan has now ended early.

“He’s a mature player, he’s a great shot-stopper and it wasn’t a difficult decision,” said Wright, who compared Pears to Jordan Pickford, who was on loan to Darlington from Sunderland in 2012.

“We have already raised one England goalkeeper, he could be the next.

“I played with David Stockdale and I think he is in that ilk of goalkeeper. He has a very promising future, there are still things in his game he needs to work on and he knows that, his kicking in particular.

“He doesn’t have the biggest of frames, but he is so brave in coming for crosses, he’s not phased by it at all.

“He’s playing in front of crowds and that’s one of the reasons he wanted to stay and that’s really pleasing, that an under-23 player wants come out of his comfort zone when they’ve got everything laid on for them at their club, to want to come out into the real world and play men’s football. And it’s great Middlesbrough have allowed him.”

Talbot was due to stay with Quakers until April, but Wright explained: “I had chat with Kev Ball at Sunderland. We have been doing really well, Tally made a mistake but we haven’t dwelled on it.

“He’s actually gone back with a shoulder niggle, which I think has affected him a little bit.

“Sunderland are going to keep him until the end of the season when his contract is up.”