MARK Convery made the most of a rare chance on Saturday.

With Ryan Valentine ruled out of the draw at Wycombe with a virus, Convery was given his first start since September.

Valentine travelled with the rest of the Darlington squad on Friday, only to be struck down with a mystery bug later on in the evening.

Feeling no better on Saturday morning, Valentine was left behind at the team hotel as manager David Hodgson informed Convery he would be putting him in.

And, after a full 90 minute run out in the first-team for the first time this season, Convery joked he was not about to give up his place - by fair means or foul.

"The call-up was a bit unexpected after Ryan took bad on Friday night," admitted Convery. "I was only expecting to be substitute so it was a nice surprise when I was told I was starting on Saturday morning.

"It was nice to get a start and hopefully I've done enough to keep my place on Tuesday night.

"I will be checking in on Ryan to see what I can pop in his water!"

And, while the 23-year-old has few qualms about his bit-part role this season, he is determined to figure more in Hodgson's plans.

Convery last started in Quakers' 1-1 draw at Rochdale on September 11 and said: "I don't mind coming on as sub, but I would prefer it if I was starting, as any player would. I suppose you have to be patient and take those chances that you do get.

"I felt I did pretty well and hopefully I will get a few more starts between now and the end of the season."

Convery was one of three enforced changes made by Hodgson. With Craig Hignett (groin) and Adrian Webster (hamstring) also out, Neil Wainwright and Adolfo Gregorio earned recalls.

"It was always going to be a tough game, but it just shows that we've got players who can come in when others aren't available," said Convery.

Saturday's draw keeps Quakers in firm contention for a play-off place after they moved up to eighth in League Two.

Read more about the Quakers here.