Most players going out on loan need time to adjust to their new surroundings.

A different club, different team-mates, different tactics - it can take a game or two to fit in with an alternative environment.

Not so with Matt Clarke at Darlington. It felt more like a case of going home for the big defender when Colin Todd okayed the Quakers' request to borrow their former captain for the month.

Having played nearly 200 times in a Darlo shirt, Clarke required no bedding-in and was thrown straight into the cut and thrust of a local derby at Hartlepool.

He responded with a strong performance and a clean sheet - a morale boost not only for his team, after a turbulent few weeks which saw a change at the top, but also the player himself.

Clarke freely admits his stint with City has not gone to plan. First there was the nagging injury which kept him on the sidelines and then that red card on his delayed debut in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

A short fix back on familiar territory could be just the tonic to improve his match fitness and self-confidence.

Darlington's new boss Dave Penney may see it as an opening to keep Clarke on a longer stay but the centre half is adamant that the arrangement is only temporary.

While he is happy to be back on his old hunting ground, Clarke is still determined to cut the mustard in League One.

"It's early days. I've signed a two-year contract with Bradford and there is a long way to go," he said.

"Hopefully I'll get some games under my belt with Darlington, do well and then when I go back I'll be able to fight for my place again.

"You never know what's round the corner in football but unless I'm told otherwise, I'm very much a Bradford player. I'm not one for giving up. I signed for Bradford and want to make a name for myself.

"It has not been an ideal start at the club for me. When you sign for somebody and then get injured so soon, it is always going to knock you back.

"Then I got the chance in the Scunthorpe game and was very disappointed with the red card. I still felt I got to the ball instead of playing the man but the referee thought otherwise. It was my first match and I'd waited so long, so that made it even worse.

"But I still really want to do the best for myself and the football club and that hasn't changed. This is a good chance for me at Darlington but my aim is to get in the Bradford side."

Darlington had been persistent with their requests. Todd took regular calls for nearly three weeks before deciding that a spell playing regularly away from Valley Parade could be beneficial to Clarke and City.

Todd said: "The most important thing for me is that if he comes back and has had games, he should be ready to slot straight in when needed. You could see against Scunthorpe that he wasn't ready."

Clarke is certainly not out of sight, out of mind with his manager. Todd is keeping a close eye on his progress in the north-east - and even went to see for himself at Friday's game with Chester.

The fact the boss is taking a keen interest will tell Clarke that he remains part of the small squad at City and he knows it is vital to do himself justice during his sabbatical.

Clarke said: "The manager has made it clear that the only reason he let me go on loan was to get playing games. I was just sitting on the bench or playing the odd match for the reserves and that's nowhere near the same tempo as in the first team.

"Dave Wetherall and Mark Bower are ahead of me and are both playing well, so you've got to be patient.

"It is quite frustrating because you want to be out there. Then I was told about Darlington's interest after our reserve game was called off the other week and I was delighted to be allowed to go.

"Going back there again feels like I've never been away. Even though there are quite a lot of new lads, I still recognise most of the faces and it was nice to fit straight back in.

"The supporters have been fine and I got a little bit of a cheer when my name was read out against Hartlepool. They took to me after four years at the club and I hope that hasn't changed.

"The derby game was a great one to start with. It felt more like an FA Cup tie than a league match. There were a few nerves but that was more down to anticipation and excitement to be playing again.

"It went quite well for me and hopefully the rest of the month will be all right - and when I come back to Bradford, I'll be ready to show what I can do."