Appleby at Boundary Park

Last updated : 16 January 2002 By Dave Moore
Athletic are poised to bolster their squad with a move for utility player Matt Appleby. The Barnsley man is already training at Boundary Park and will sign on loan, with a view to a permanent transfer. Appleby (29) had injury problems recently and, following the appointment of ex-Rochdale boss Steve Parkin, is unable to get first-team football.

Athletic stepped in and Barnsley, one of nine clubs where Mick Wadsworth has worked as coach, agreed to let Appleby go. The experienced Teesider can operate at centre-half or right-back, while he has also played sweeper at Oakwell. But many believe he is best as a holding midfielder – and, through injury and suspension, Athletic have just lost Darren Sheridan from that position.

Appleby played a handful of games for Newcastle before making his name in a two-year spell at Darlington. Barnsley splashed out £250,000 and he has since made 185 appearances for the club, including during their Premiership season.

Wadsworth said: “I’ve watched him a lot and he is a talented player, the sort we need for a better squad. He has plenty of experience, but 29 is still a good age and he was a huge part of Barnsley’s success. He is versatile – capable of playing in three different positions – and it’s good timing for us because Darren Sheridan will be out several weeks. This is another step in improving our squad. The result on Saturday didn’t help, but we are in much better nick than we were three months ago.”

Appleby could go straight into Athletic’s plans at home to struggling Swindon. It is a vital match after defeats against Cheltenham in the FA Cup, Blackpool in the LDV Vans Trophy and Chesterfield in Saturday’s league game. Goalkeeper Gary Kelly is an injury doubt as he is unhappy with the condition of his knee after surgery over Christmas. The operation was a minor one to clear debris, but Kelly continues to struggle.