Lowly Washington aim to kick-start their campaign in tomorrow’s Division One derby against Sunderland RCA at Nissan.
The Mechanics relieved manager James Clark of his duties over the festive period, with assistant boss Michael Laws taking charge of first-team affairs, supported by captain Alex White and Pascal Chimbonda.
Andrew Gibson, Washington’s head of media, said: “Laws had a joint training session last Saturday, with a friendly against the U23 team, from our junior club Washington AFC.
“We have also completed the transfer of Harry Wood from Easington Colliery.
“Alex White is unavailable due to injury and Matty Parker serves the first of a three-game suspension.
“Connor Gardner and Cal Dent are also both injured and Lewis Herron and Lamin Cham are not available for selection. However, Shaun Pickford returns to the squad.”
Washington lost 7-2 at Stockton Town in midweek and Gibson added: “It has been an unsettled few weeks due to several postponements.
“Everyone at the club is looking forward to playing football and focusing on league survival. RCA will prove to be tough opposition and they are having a good run of form, but we hope to win the game and get some much needed points on the board.”
RCA manager Martin Swales said: “Ross Preston and Luke Page will both require fitness tests and James Armstrong should be back in the squad alongside goalkeeper Neal Bussey.
“Kieran Parnaby is missing as he is away with Durham County U18s, in a final.
“It’s going to be a tough game. Washington have no manager at the moment, but they are a keen, young set of lads, but we will go there and give it a go and see what happens.”
Ryhope CW entertain fourth-placed North Shields, looking to repeat their impressive 1-0 away triumph back in August.
Assistant manager Stuart Gooden said: “Danni Lay is suspended and David Gordon and Chris Wallace are out with long-term injuries.
“But new signing Michael Rae, from Shildon, is available, as is the rest of the squad.
“We are really hoping the game is on, so we can try to get the season back on track with a win.”
Seaham Red Star have a blank weekend, but return to action at home to Easington Colliery in the Brooks Mileson Memorial Cup on Tuesday.
Consett have injury concerns ahead of their home game against Dunston UTS.
Manager Mark Eccles said: “Ross Coombe, Clark Kay, Dan Hawkins, David Knight and Nathan Convery are out, while Nathan Lawrence is a doubt.
“We are down to the bare bones of the squad this week, with what will be a tough game against Dunston.
“They are always a hard working team and hard to break down, so we will have to be at our best. Whoever I put out will have to perform well, but hopefully we can pick up all three points.”
Shildon, in third, welcome struggling Jarrow Roofing to Dean Street. Anthony Peacock and Matthew Waters are still missing for the Railwaymen, with long-term injuries.
Matty Robson and Sam Hodgson are doubtful, while Marc Ellison is suspended.
Roofing will be boosted by the return of top scorer Dennis Knight, while Iulian Petrache is also back from suspension and Oli Leedham hopes to return from injury.
Chris Winn, who managed a 10-minute run-out in the midweek loss to Penrith, aims to keep building up his fitness after a knee injury sustained in August.
John Campbell is a doubt after picking up an injury on Tuesday that forced him off after just 16 minutes.
West Auckland, down to seventh, journey to Cumbria to play on-form Penrith, who have won four in a row.
Stockton Town host Whitley Bay and are in in high spirits, following their victory over West Auckland to reach the last 16 of the FA Vase.
Nathan Mulligan and Kevin Hayes will start suspensions for their red cards last weekend. On the positive side, Joe Carter will be available.
Bottom club Billingham Synthonia face a daunting task against leaders Morpeth.
Synners secretary Graham Craggs said: “With no games since Boxing Day we have no new injury worries. The only player still out injured is captain John Seaton, but he has now started training again following a broken foot.”
Team Northumbria are at home to Ashington, who have Shaun Henderson back from suspension.
Player-manager Steve Bowey needs to assess the fitness on several of his players before finalising his line-up.
Guisborough Town welcome Newton Aycliffe in a bottom-five battle, with both teams looking to extend the gap to third-bottom Jarrow Roofing.
Marske United hope to stage their delayed Buildbase FA Vase fourth round tie against Hinckley, following last week’s postponement.
Marske miss ineligible Gateshead loanee Macaulay Langstaff and the injured Andy Ramsbottom.
Newcastle Benfield travel to Midlands side Coleshill Town for their replay, after last week’s 1-1 extra-time draw.