Washington skipper hails shock capture of Sunderland star Shurben

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WASHINGTON have made a clear statement of intent by signing former Sunderland skipper Dan Shurben – and he is set to make his debut on Saturday in the Dukes North East Premier League First Division match of the day when Brandon visit Vigo Lane.

Shurben ranks as one of the leading players in the Premier League, having scored not far short of 8,000 Premier Division runs, a record that places him third in the all-time run scorers list.

He has captained Sunderland in recent years, and played for them in their opening game of the season, scoring 84 in a dramatic win against Newcastle at Jesmond.

With Sunderland losing several games to the weather, he has not played since and his move has come as something of a surprise.

Shurben goes straight into an already strong Washington team who began their league campaign with a victory on last week’s opening day at Seaham Harbour.

Another former Sunderland man, Ash Thorpe, is in charge at Washington and he is delighted with the new acquisition and the current strength of his squad.

Thorp said: “Dan’s a quality player as his record shows. He will bring experience and skill to the team.

“It was great to get off to a flying start against Harbour, who are one of the sides I expect to be up there challenging for promotion to the Premier league at the end of the season.”

Washington will go into the Brandon match brimming with confidence and at full strength, with Darren Hickey also set to return.

The visitors are also expected to be one of the teams in the hunt for promotion and they, too, are virtually at their optimum, with Andrew Walker now recovered from his calf injury, and Matthew Whalley free from school commitments.

Eppleton’s fine win at Willington has really boosted the Church Road club and they are “raring to go” ahead of this week’s home match against Seaham Harbour.

With David Wilkinson back in the side, Eppleton are at full strength for this one.

Harbour have a hectic few days in store – they entertain Blaydon tonight in the Horner Cup, travel to Boldon tomorrow for a Profound DSL Trophy tie and then face the Eppleton trip.

They show two changes for the league match, with Shaun McKenna and Nathan Corkhill replacing Jeff Laws and Lewis Aiken.

Another of the first-day victors, Sacriston, will be looking to build on that success when they entertain Willington.

Sacriston have decided to boost their bowling resources by bringing in 19-year-old all-rounder Callum Appleby to replace Dan Stephenson. Appleby is also a useful performer with the bat, as his 88 runs for the seconds last week highlights.

The visitors include Aaron Proud, which means they will have their best XI in the field.

South Shields sit proudly on top of the one-game-old league table, having picked up the maximum return from their surprise victory at Boldon.

This is nose bleed territory for a club who were relegated last year when they did not manage to win a single match, and, with new signing Rob Gibson enjoying a sound debut, their young side will be looking to build on their start when they entertain an understrength Felling.

Felling look to have found a gem in Aussie James Crosthwaite who, despite his team’s modest record, has been rattling up some big runs.

But he misses this weekend’s games as he fulfils an overseas commitment by attending a training camp in the USA, with Peter Vinton drafted in to replace him. Sixteen-year-old all-rounder Jack Tilley is also handed an opportunity in place of the unavailable Joe Carroll

South Hetton took Brandon to the wire last week, but, in the end, fell short by nine runs, so both they and visitors Boldon, who lost to Shields, will be keen to get that first tick in the wins column.

South Hetton’s Tony Murphy is on his bike once more this weekend, this time riding through Holland, so the experienced Andy Hillas is brought in to face an unchanged Boldon line-up.