MATTY Appleby etched his name in the history books when he was part of the first Darlington side to reach Wembley in 1996.

Nine years on, the play-off final venue may be different, but manager David Hodgson hopes Appleby can help repeat history come May.

The 32-year-old will wear the number 33 shirt when he makes his debut against Yeovil Town this afternoon, 24 hours after re-joining Quakers from Oldham Athletic.

Middlesbrough-born Appleby recently made no secret of his desire to return to the North-East, despite regaining his Oldham place under new boss Ronnie Moore.

Hodgson failed to land Appleby during the summer when Oldham turned down his approach.

And last month the former Newcastle United utility man saw a planned switch fall through when the Latics parted company with manager Brian Talbot.

However, Appleby reached an agreement with Oldham on Thursday night to have the remainder of his contract paid up, finally allowing him to join Quakers. Appleby has agreed to play without pay until the end of the season.

It was shortly after Quakers' play-off defeat to Plymouth that Appleby moved to Barnsley in a £200,000 deal, having made his name at Feethams as a defender.

During six successful years at Oakwell, Appleby developed into a midfielder, making over 150 appearances there for the Tykes.

Hodgson believes Appleby's versatility will be a useful commodity in Quakers' crucial run-in. With ten games remaining they lie one place outside the League Two play-off zone.

"Matty can provide cover in defence and midfield, and I'm sure he will be a real asset to this club," said Hodgson.

"You know what you get with Matty because he's a fully committed player who will always give you 100 per-cent.

"From day one he has been desperate to come back here, even when he regained his place at Oldham. That shows you the kind of player we're dealing with.

"I'm delighted a player of his experience in the game has agreed to join us at such a crucial stage of the season."

With skipper Craig Liddle ruled out with a stomach injury, Hodgson has hinted that Appleby may even don the captain's armband on his emotional return.

"There is a possibility that Matty will captain us on Saturday, which would be amazing when you consider his last game for the club was at Wembley nearly ten years ago," said Hodgson.

"He helped Darlington reach the play-offs then and who's to say he can't do the same this time around?"

The inclusion of Appleby will be one of at least three changes made by Hodgson from the side which beat Boston last weekend. Clyde Wijnhard and Alun Armstrong are available after serving one-match bans and will lead the attack.

Wijnhard will make his first appearance since he was replaced after just 31 minutes against Leyton Orient a fortnight ago, while Armstrong will seek to end his nine-game goal drought this afternoon.

"It's a big plus to have Alun and Clyde back and it's an even bigger plus that they know how important it is that they perform," said Hodgson. "Clyde has responded on the training ground and has been working his socks off this week."

Hodgson is likely to recall winger Neil Wainwright to the side after a one-game suspension. Recent signing Keith Gilroy could make way. Midfielder Adrian Webster is also available after missing Quakers' last four games with a hamstring injury.

Yeovil lead League Two by six points after narrowly beating Leyton Orient 1-0 seven days ago.

"I have to make decisions that are right for the game," said Hodgson. "Yeovil are a completely different side from Boston and it's a game we have to win.

"There are another nine games after Saturday, but winning this game will give everybody a huge boost.

"It will make the players realise that they are quite capable of putting together a run of four or five wins."

Quakers enjoyed a five-match unbeaten start to 2005 and Hodgson added: "I'm pretty certain we can find that kind of form, as long as the confidence and belief is there among the players. There is no better time to start than against Yeovil.

"We play better against the better sides - Swansea, Scunthorpe and Macclesfield will tell you that because we've beaten them."

Hodgson will pit his wits against the Glovers for the fourth time this season. Quakers earned a point at Huish Park in August, while the side's have also met twice in the FA Cup. Yeovil earned a controversial first-round replay in a 3-3 draw in November before Gary Johnson's side won 1-0 in the replay.

"We got a draw down there in the league and we were robbed by the official in the cup," said Hodgson. "We had the edge on them in the replay and that was another really close game."

And, while Hodgson holds the utmost respect for the Glovers' achievements, the Quakers boss is aware of their sinister edge.

Yeovil have scored 10 goals from the penalty spot this season --more than any other side in League Two - while seven have came from free-kicks.

"The only thing that really concerns me is the amount of penalties and free-kicks Yeovil get," said Hodgson. "Foreign players get criticised for play-acting, although players over here seem to get away with it. There is no question that Yeovil are a good footballing team, as their league position shows, but they do have an ugly side.

"Let's not take anything away from them because they are a very good side.''

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