HETTON Lyons’ bright start to the Dukes North East Premier League season has faltered in the last couple of weeks and they now face injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s trip to Chester-le-Street.
Two defeats in the last two matches have taken the gloss off a start which saw them in the upper reaches of the table after a victory over Stockton and a winning draw against Tynemouth.
But just when they needed their full complement of players to face a team as strong as the Cestrians, there are uncertainties over several key players.
Definitely out is Ryan Pringle, who was the North East player of the year in 2011. Pringle brings all-round skills to the Lyons party and he is once again featuring in both the batting and bowling rankings at this early stage of the season.
But a side strain that he has been carrying for a while, and which has prevented him from bowling in recent games, hasn’t cleared as hoped and he has been ordered to take complete rest for the next seven days to try to finally sort the problem.
There are also injury doubts over ex-Durham men Shaun Birbeck, who underwent an operation on his knee last week, and John Tindale.
Birbeck had a cartilage removed and a “flush out” and it will be touch and go as to whether he will make this weekend, while skipper Tindale pulled a thigh muscle in the last game and this, combined with a back problem, also makes him a doubt for Ropery Lane.
With Gary Adey unavailable, Hetton’s resources will be stretched, particularly as they have three games in three days with the Chester match sandwiched between a T20 tie tomorrow and a Justsport Trophy game on Sunday.
Both Birbeck and Tindale will defer a decision on whether they can play until tomorrow to allow themselves the best possible chance of being cleared to play.
Chester have no such worries, having a full squad at their disposal, and may even get the chance to hand Scott Borthwick his debut as he did not travel with the Durham squad to Taunton this week.
Chris Rushworth did head south, although he wasn’t in the team, so league leaders Sunderland hope he may make the dash back to take part in their game at South Shields and put them at full strength as they seek to build on their 10-point advantage at the head of the table.
Shields have made a positive start, already having two wins under their belts, and they would love to be able to include their Durham man, Gordon Muchall, but again they have to await news on his availability.
Elsewhere, Durham Academy have a daunting trip to South North, while Gateshead Fell meet Tynemouth, Stockton host Newcastle and Benwell Hill head to Blaydon.
The T20 competition starts tomorrow with the first round of group matches which feature Sunderland at home to Blaydon, Chester-le-Street entertaining Tynemouth, Hetton Lyons hosting Stockton and Durham Academy at Gateshead Fell.