SUNDERLAND RCA boss Martin Swales is hoping that Colin Larkin can do what Jermain Defoe is challenged to achieve at the Stadium of Light – score goals and keep the side in the top flight.
The Wearsiders are embroiled in the Ebac Northern League First Division relegation fight and, like their illustrious neighbours, have also had a problem scoring goals.
Only 26 have been yielded from 20 matches, leaving the side second from bottom ahead of the visit from Whitley Bay.
“I’ve signed Colin from West Auckland and I need him to score goals,” said Swales.
“He rifled a hat-trick in a friendly against Richmond Town and will make his debut tomorrow. Hopefully, he can help get us out of the drop zone.”
With goalkeeper Josh Carmichael, Ross Preston and Lewis Wood all available, Swales will have a full-strength squad to choose from.
Whitley Bay have also been busy on the transfer front and recently-appointed boss Paddy Atkinson has signed goalkeeper Sean McCafferty from Bedlington and brought in Dylan Morse on loan from Gateshead.
“RCA need the points so they’ll be giving it 100 per cent. We’ll have to be up for the challenge to take anything from the game,” observed Atkinson.
Durham City aim to extend their recent good form at Newcastle Benfield, but once again boss Ian Chandler cannot call upon the suspended Chris Wallace.
Jonny Davis (knee) and Nathan Lawrence (hamstring) are injury concerns for City.
“Benfield are a strong side, but we beat them earlier in the season and, in our current form, I’m hoping for another three points after taking 13 out of the last 18,” said Chandler.
In contrast, Benfield have claimed only five points from their last six matches. Steve Bowey has strengthened his squad, re-signing Paul Talbot, and he also expects Stephen Baptist and Chris Carr to be involved.
North Shields, who, along with Dunston UTS, are through to the last 16 of the coveted FA Carlsberg Vase, host Shildon in a crucial championship clash.
The Robins line up Stuart Doninson, but have niggling injury worries for Adam Forster, Dean Holmes and Denver Morris.
Second-top West Auckland Town should be too strong for relegation-threatened Celtic Nation, while third-placed Guisborough Town are at fifth-top Jarrow Roofing.
“Guisborough beat us in the earlier game and we’ll have to be on our mettle to get a result,” observed manager Richie McLoughlin, who includes goalkeeper Alan Greenan and Anthony Myers.
Billingham Synthonia, who are just outside the drop zone, aim to make it three wins on the bounce by defeating Ashington on Teesside.
Ross McNab, the former Sunderland RCA player, Tom Hinchley and Tom Atkinson come into the frame, while the Colliers miss injured pair Richard Flynn and James Taylor.
West Allotment Celtic are another side embroiled in the relegation battle and, away to Bishop Auckland, manager Paul Stoneman is again ruled out, as is Chris Douglas.
Keeper Ryan Beal, though, has returned from holiday and could make a start.