Northern League: Leon ripe for Ryhope run-in – but he misses Birtley trip

Seaham Red Star (red/white) battle against West Auckland in the First Division last week

Seaham Red Star (red/white) battle against West Auckland in the First Division last week

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Ryhope CW have the chance to close in on promotion in Division Two tomorrow when they visit out-of-sorts Birtley Town, who have lost their last six games.

Gary Pearson’s second-top side will cut the deficit to leaders South Shields, who are without a game, to 10 points if they beat their relegation-threatened hosts.

Leon Ryan, who has had an outstanding season at the back, is definitely ruled out tomorrow but could play a part in the run-in. He picked up what first appeared to be a bad ankle injury on Tuesday night but an x-ray revealed there was no break.

Stephen Francis, Tom Bott and Craig Ruddy are pencilled into manager Pearson’s team sheet, but influential midfielder Nathan O’Neill serves a one-match ban.

Third-top Chester-le-Street also have a free day, while Billingham Synthonia meet Team Northumbria in a fourth-versus-fifth clash. Synners have Steven Huggins struggling with a back injury. The Teessiders reckon they need to win the last four games to go up.