HORDEN CW have a mountain to climb if they are to beat Stockton Town in the race for the Championship, but manager Keith Brown hasn’t given up.
Although the Colliers are second, they are five points adrift with a considerably inferior goals difference. In addition, Stockton have six games in hand.
A win tomorrow at home to Boldon CA is therefore essential and Brown welcomes the return of seven players to boost his squad.
Michael Cain, Mark Brischuck, Andy McLeod, Andrew Londsdale, Paul Moss, Ryan Brymer and Dane Wilson, all come in for consideration.
Ethan Payne and Christopher Freeman are definitely missing and Brown has injury concerns for Robert Taylor and Darren Atkinson.
Boldon CA are comfortably placed just below half way, but they have suffered a blow with the decision of Adam Drysdale to sign for Washington.
Also missing are suspended pair, midfielder Adam Smith and defender Neil Crammon.
If Stockton Town avoid defeat at Seaton Carew – which seems highly likely – they will end the year unbeaten away from home.
At home or away they’ve been outstanding and in 19 games this season they racked up 18 wins and a draw.
They also boast the phenomenal goals difference of +76, having scored 85 times and conceded just nine goals.
The leaders are minus Tony Johnson, but Scott Meehan and Adam Nicholson return at out-of-sorts Seaton Carew who have picked up only one point from the last eight games.
Easington Colliery are third going into their home fixture with Richmond Town.
Assistant boss Craig Parkinson reports that Brett Gillatt, Dale Spence, Karl Adams and Ian Redman are all unavailable but Michael Turnbull, David Paul, Luke Page, Shane O’Brien and Chris Pearson resume.
Ashbrooke Belford House could include new signings Lewis Heron, Gary Thompson and Cory Steele together with Jonny Williamson and Nick Thompson at home to second bottom Harton and Westoe.
The South Tynesiders are minus James Hedley but Colin McLean and Gary Dadd are named.
Silksworth CW are at the seaside and could find it difficult against fourth-placed Redcar Athletic, even though manager Scott Cameron is able to name an almost full strength pool of players.
His only doubt surrounds the injured Liam Hodson.
Redcar’s Joe Blackburn is expected to be out of action until February and Chris Bivens’ injury is taking longer to heal than anticipated but manager Steve Connolly reports that he’ll have a strong squad to choose from.
Spennymoor Town Reserves line up David Atkinson, but injury rules out Reece Kenney for the game with Jarrow at Coxhoe.
Sunderland West End delay announcing their line up, while visitors Hartlepool are pleased that two former players have rejoined the club.
Kyle McDermott missed the first half of the season and Karl Ryan has returned from a spell with neighbours Seaton Carew.
Another player on the move is Malik Kalimba who is back at Annfield Plain after playing for Tow Law Town.
The Plain through have lost Jordan Fraser to Whickham and Antony Telfer to Esh Winning.
Manager Keith Sheardown is forced to go without Ross Nicholson (knee) and Kallum Telfer (knee) for the home game with Cleator Moor Celtic.