SEAHAM Red Star are just a point behind Norton and Stockton Ancients in Division Two, with three games in hand.
Tomorrow, they are at home to in-form Thornaby, who have climbed into seventh place. Star boss Mark Collingwood names Lee Kerr, Dean Nicholson, Chris Storey and Josh Home Jackson, who has declared his intention of staying with the club.
A massive blow, though, is that striker Sonny Andrews will be out for four months.
Washington are third before making the short journey to Ryhope CW where boss Steven Hutchinson names a full-strength line-up.
The Mechanics, who have scored 83 goals in just 23 league games, have transferred Adam Ward to South Shields.
Ryhope have Chris Trewick free from suspension for their tough challenge against one of the division’s form teams, but Daryl Evans and Chris Rookes are definite non-starters while Phil Hall, Max Stoker and James Cook will need fitness tests before kick-off.
Chester-le-Street are without the suspended Kevin Dixon against Heaton Stannington at Chester Moor Park and Birtley Town manager Tony Boakes could give an outing to his 16 year old son Callum when Esh Winning provide the opposition. Callum had five years with the Newcastle United Academy. Jamie Henderson, signed from Tow Law, starts.
Norton and Stockton ancients, with a one point lead at the top, face a potentially difficult task at home to Hebburn Town who are up to fifth on the back of some good results in recent weeks.
Willington head to Whickham, while struggling Tow Law Town will look to pick up much-needed points when they visit fourth-bottom Stokesley SC, who are just one point and one place better off.
* Join our live, interactive SAFC matchday blog tomorrow. The build-up to the Sunderland-West Ham game starts at 11am on sunderlandecho.com and we’ll keep a close eye on all the local football action and results