Furness happy with City progress, but struggling for players

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DURHAM City are down to the bare bones for tomorrow’s Ebac Northern League First Division game at Billingham Synthonia.

Manager Adam Furness reports that at least nine players are out and the number will rise to double figures if Paul Dixon fails a fitness test.

Definitely missing are Scott Fenwick, Ian Ward, Matthew Scott, Craig Hindmarch, Adam Clough, Josh Gray, Jonny Giles, Rhys Jobling and Joe Barwick.

“We were at the point against Newton Aycliffe on Wednesday night of replacing injured players with less injured players. That’s how bad it was but hopefully we’ll soon start to get lads back,” said Furness, who has been delighted with his team’s recent form.

“We played three games in five days with a hugely-depleted squad, but picked up six points so great credit must go to the players. We’re getting closer to guaranteed safety and are now in the middle of the table.”

Furness has certainly improved City’s standing since he took over and although he refuses to accept that relegation isn’t yet ruled out, his side is now 16 points clear of the drop zone.

Synthonia’s only injury concern is Dan Newby.

Sunderland RCA face a stern test against Spennymoor Town at the Brewery Field. Although Moors are 23 points behind leaders Darlington 1883, they have eight games in hand.

“It should be really tough. but. if the players who are coming back play to their potential. I think we can get a result,” observed manager Neil Hixon.

RCA had only 11 fit players against Penrith on Tuesday, but Scott Richards, Paul Buzzeo, Gary Shaw, Michael Pattison and Lee Owens all return.

Hixon, though, is hoping to get a goalkeeper in since Lewis Graham will miss the next few weeks and Craig Shields, who deputised at Penrith, picked up a shoulder injury.

Darlington 1883 will aim to take another step towards the championship and promotion to the Evo-Stik League but they, too, could find it difficult at sixth-top Ashington. The Colliers, however, miss captain Liam Atkin, Phil Bell and David Malloy, while Andrew Dugdale faces a fitness test.

Second-placed West AucklandmeetFA Carlsberg Vase semi-finalists Shildon in a derby and Whitley Bay, who have their sights set on a third-place finish, take on Team Northumbria.

Bay’s Callum Anderson, James Fairley and Lee Kerr may return, but a groin injury could keep Brad Brooking out.

Bedlington Terriers, who are fighting a winding-up order, have slipped to eighth top before their visit to Newton Aycliffe where manager Keith Perry is confident that Phil Bannister and Keith Morton will be able to play.

Although they are not safe yet, Newcastle Benfield have taken great strides since appointing Steve Bowey as boss.

The Tynesiders have claimed 13 points from the last 18 and another win over relegation-threatened South Shields could further ease any concerns.

Hebburn, at home to Celtic Nation, miss Dan Kirkup, who completes a five-match ban, while Consett, away to Dunston UTS, do without David Scorer (ankle), but David Brown returns. UTS have Kane Young and Stephen Goddard competing for starts.