O’Neill’s return after eye injury boosts Ryhope

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RYHOPE CW secretary Dougie Benison says having Nathan O’Neill back in the squad is like signing a new player.

Ahead of tomorrow’s Ebac Northern League Second Division game at home to Tow Law Town, he said: “Nathan has been out since September after sustaining an injury to his eye against Washington. His specialist has told him he can now play and we are all absolutely delighted.”

Manager Martin Swales has signed Danny Law but awaits news on the fitness of Phil Hall and James Dunn before finalising his line-up. Definitely out are Dean Arkley and Greg Swansbury, who are injured.

Seaham Red Star expect a tough game with North Shields at the Daren Persson Stadium.

“I know we have won three games on the bounce and are sixth top, but the Robins are a good side and we’ll have to be at our best to take something from the game,” said secretary Kevin Turns, who reports the return of Alan Pegram. Kevin Gordon, though, is again sidelined with an injury.

Following an indifferent start, North Shields have steadily climbed the table and are now ninth just four points behind Red Star.

The Robins’ chances are boosted with the inclusion of Femi Akinbolu and Andy Hay and although Adam Forster is doubtful, their only definite absentee is the suspended John Hook.

Michael McKeown will play against his former club having moved from Red Star to North Shields last month.

Chester-le-Street have goalkeeper Matt Cook and Matt Smith back at Darlington RA where manager Colin Wake could name his strongest starting line-up should Kieron McDonald successfully come through a fitness test.

In Division One, Ashington have injury worries with Craig Scott and Andrew Dobbie added to long-term victims Jonny Godsmark, Josh Gray and Phil Bell.

Darlington 1883 have a seven-point lead over Spennymoor Town before taking on West Auckland Town, who are buoyant after scoring seven goals in their midweek fixture.

Spennymoor conceded points for only the second time this season when they were held to a draw by Sunderland RCA but start favourites at Marske United.

Third-placed Bedlington Terriers had only 12 fit players for their game at Billingham Town on Tuesday night where they squandered a three-goal cushion and had to settle for a point.

Manager Keith Perry is keeping his fingers crossed that at least some of the nine absentees will be ready to resume at Consett. Kris Gate, Tony Shandran, Stephen Baptist, Stephen Stewart, Colin Morton, Paul Brayson, Stuart Elliott, Craig Pickering and Adam Wilkinson are concerns for the manager.

Consett boss Kenny Lindoe is without Luke Sullivan and Gavin Ross but expects the return of Ryan Bell and Andrew Cuthbertson.

Following a dismal start to the season, Dunston UTS have hit form and are now eighth before visiting Bishop Auckland, where manger Billy Irwin hopes to have fit-again Stephen Goddard in his line-up. Andy Clark has returned from America.

Whitley Bay were another side to make an indifferent start but they too have come good and are fourth before lining up at Hillheads against Penrith.

Calumn Anderson has a 50-50 chance of playing and boss Ian Chandler is hopeful that Craig McFarlane will be on the bench after being out for six weeks.

Hebburn Town have taken promotion in their stride and following last week’s victory – their third on the bounce – reached the dizzy heights of fourth top.

They break new ground when they visit New Ferens Park where manager Paul Bennett’s only absentees is the suspended Dan Kirkup.

Following back-to-back wins, Durham City are aiming for a hat-trick but will have to be at their best if they are to halt the South Tynesiders’ impressive sequence of results.