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Hopson returns to Quakers
Dale Hopson has returned to Darlington and will make his first start in this evening's game at Heritage Park against Ossett Town.
The attack-minded midfielder has been released by Huddersfield Town and his arrival brings to a conclusion weeks of talks with manager Martin Gray.
They first met in October and Hopson was in the stands for Darlington's match at Curzon Ashton, though his contract with the Terriers was due to run until next month.
But he reached an agreement to be released early, allowing him to last night return to the club with whom he came through the ranks under Craig Liddle.
"He's a big signing for us," said Gray. "I'm delighted to have got him. He's had a good grounding in the game and he's a good lad as well.
"He's a local lad and he wants to play for Darlington, it's always great to get players like that to the club."
Hopson, 21, joined Huddersfield after leaving Quakers at the end of 2011-12, a catastrophic campaign for the club when the effects of administration savaged the squad, but the year marked the Teessider's breakthrough and he impressed on a number of occasions
His debut performance during a 3-1 win away to Ebbsfleet, when Hopson scored and was man of the match, stands at the highlight of his 16 appearances that season.
"You can't turn down an opportunity to sign a player like him," added Gray.
Hopson's final game for Huddersfield's development squad was on a Monday afternoon, a 3-1 win at Barnsley, and his first game back in Quakers colours will be at Heritage Park in what shall be a much-changed Darlington XI.
With Saturday's important game at top-of-table Warrington in mind, Gray will rest his best players for tonight's Doodson Sports League Cup game.
"We've got a massive game against Warrington, so we've got to focus on that and make sure players get rested up given the importance of the match," said Gray.
"We'll be bringing in the fringe players that haven't played as much recently, the younger players to give them a bit of experience.
"It's nice to be coming off the back of our fourth successive win and be able to rest players in midweek."
Darlington beat Blyth 5-1 in the last round when Gray selected a strong XI when he was looking to engineer a return to winning ways having seen his team lose back-to-back league fixtures.
Now that Quakers have won four consecutive games in all competitions, fringe players will be given a go this evening against a side they have already put ten goals past this season.
Quakers won an FA Trophy tie 6-1 in October and also defeated Ossett 4-1 in a league fixture last month, a match in which Stephen Thompson grabbed the first goal of the day direct from a free-kick.
He was unable to finish Saturday's 2-1 win at Mossley due to an injury, but Gray explained that his substitution was merely a precautionary measure.
Gray said: "He's alright. I could've kept him on. He got a knee in the buttock so had a dead leg so he was holding it a little bit, but he'll be fine. You've got to look at the bigger picture sometimes.
"I thought Nathan Fisher came on and looked very sharp, it wasn't as though we were weakened by Thompson going off."
Meanwhile, Warrington have announced a cut-price ticket offer for families attending Saturday's match at Cantilever Park.
Warrington's offer means two adults and two children can gain admission for £5.
To take advantage of the offer, fans are asked to log on to the Warrington website - warringtontownfc.co.uk - and download a leaflet and which should be handed in upon entry at the turnstile on Saturday.
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