SUNDERLAND RCA have added teenager Abu Salim to their squad ahead of tomorrow’s Division One opener at home to Consett tomorrow.
Salim has joined from Blyth Spartans. During the summer, he had trials with Queens Park Rangers and Hartlepool United.
RCA did not have a good night when they went out of the FA Cup to Ashington in midweek, but manager Neil Hixon thought his players were tired after playing for more than an hour with 10 men last Saturday.
“There were a lot of heavy legs in the last half hour. I’m looking for the team to bounce back at home to Consett, but we’ll without a trio of players with Andrew Appleby, James Oates and David Southern all unavailable,” said Hixon.
Durham City return to the Northern League at Bedlington Terriers and, after losing several of last season’s squad, manager Dickie Ord will field several youngsters.
He said: “It’s going to be a learning curve in what is a really tough league, but the team spirit in pre-season was excellent and we defeated Newcastle Benfield last week in the FA Cup.”
Ashington were buoyant after seeing off Sunderland RCA in Tuesday’s FA Cup replay and, after finishing fifth last season, are confident of making a winning start to their league programme at the expense of Billingham Synthonia.
The Colliers’ only absentees are long-term injury victims Johnny Godsmark and Garreth Rees. Synners have David Abel banned and Andrew Burton is expected to be out for at least a month with a broken wrist.
Champions Spennymoor start their defence at home to newly-promoted Team Northumbria, who were beaten 2-0 at the Brewery Field in the midweek JR Cleator Cup clash.
Hebburn Town, back in the top flight following a long absence, entertain Guisborough, including Dan Kirkup, James Luccock, Garreth McAlindon, Carl Patterson and Martin Hunter.
Whitley Bay go to Billingham Town still without Craig McFarlane, Brian Smith, Callum Anderson and Chris Fawcett. The Teessiders miss Richard Gaston but otherwise will field their first-choice line-up.
Newcastle Benfield, disappointed at going out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle, are hoping to strengthen their team with a couple of signings before tackling West Auckland.
The biggest crowd will be at Bishop Auckland’s Heritage Park, with all 2,000 tickets sold out for the visit of newcomers Darlington 1883 – a game which has attracted interest from far and wide as the born-again Quakers start a new era four divisions below the original club’s Conference status of last season.