SUNDERLAND RCA manager Neil Hixon is confident his new-look side will soon gel – but warns it will take time.
Ahead of the Durham Challenge Cup tie against Billingham Town at Bedford Terrace, he said: “Recently, I’ve been introducing new players every week and tonight is no exception.
“I’ve signed Jordan Marshall from Billingham Synthonia and he’ll make his debut, but Elliott Cutts, brought in from Durham City, is cup-tied.
“There have been a number of comings and goings and it could be a while for the new lads to get to know one another, but I’m certain we are on the right track.”
Two recent additions to the squad, Brad Forster and San Randahawa are also ineligible, but Hixon believes he is still able to name a competitive squad.
Billingham Town welcome the return of defenders James Middleton and Danny Wray which will enable Richard Gaston to move to full-back, replacing the injured Danny O’Brien.
Captain Alan Cossavella will play in midfield and manager Carl Jewitt believes that he has picked a team good enough to win the tie.
Chester-le-Street name Tommy Alderson, signed from Team Northumbria last night, for his first game against Hebburn Town at Chester Moor Park.
Mark Nixon and Gary Turton resume but Nick Doyle has work commitments and Keiran McDonald is suspended.
“It will be a tough game. They are going very well and up to sixth in the ENL Division One, but we have a good record against them which I’m looking to extend,” declared manager Colin Wake.
Birtley Town could find the going very difficult at West Auckland especially as they will field a very young line-up.
Goalkeeper Andy Hunter, Liam Clark and Peter Henderson are cup-tied and in addition Craig Marron, Jack Quantrill and James Allsopp are injured.
Three teenagers are set for their debuts with Callum Telfer, Callum Smith and Michael Young pitched into the fray.
“It could be a long hard night but we’ll just have to get on with it. I have several players missing and three lads under 19 out there for the first time, against a quality and experienced squad,” observed manager Scott Oliver.
Ryhope CW entertain Seaton Carew definitely without Chris Rookes, Richie Jordan, Dean Arkley, Nathan O’Neill and Greg Swansbury. In addition, manager Martin Swales will need to check on the fitness of James Dunn and Nathan Johnson before finalising his squad.
Wearside League leaders Willington host a Gateshead XI at Hall Lane and their chances are boosted with the inclusion of Steve Howe, Graeme Lazenby, Shaun Brown and Dean Hanson. Their only doubt surrounds the availability of Andrew Richardson.
Dunston UTS line up at Whickham in a local derby unable to name Kane Young or Stephen Goddard. Stephen Shaw will undergo a late check on his fitness.
“The lads are looking forward to the tie. It’s a derby so there will be a little bit of added spice. We’ve got to make sure that we are up for the challenge and give them full respect despite the fact that they are in the Second Division,” said assistant manager Tony Harrison.