City rivals Sunderland West End and Silksworth CW kick off the New Year with an attractive derby clash at Ford Quarry tomorrow.
West End will be favourites to send their neighbours crashing out of the Monkwearmouth Charity Cup in the second round tie (2pm kick-off).
All gate money taken on the day will be denoted to the Jay McLaren GoFundMe page, honouring the local league footballer following his recent tragic death.
Joint West End manager Barry Cook hopes the game will go ahead, given that they have played just twice since November 25.
Cook said: “We have a big squad to choose from and welcome back Graeme Pickering after missing the latest cup game.
“Jamie Fryatt is back in contention after a long-term injury and is looking to push for a place in the squad, while Mark Catcheside is also available after an ankle injury and is looking for a place in the side.
“We are expecting a tough game against our local rivals and are looking to continue our good recent run against them.”
Silksworth have been beaten 3-0 at home and 4-1 away by West End in the league this term, and are again underdogs.
But they have forwards Nathan Renton and Stephen Moody, looking to regain their places in the side, pushing for starts.
Paul Muir returns from suspension, with new signings Alex Kempster and Dan Thompson also available.
Silksworth manager Andrew Stobbart said: “We want to hit the ground running in 2018 and make an impact on the league and the cups.
“We had a disappointing result against Leam Rangers in our final game of 2017, but the performance gave some merit and positives to build upon.”
In the other second round tie, Leam Rangers entertain Annfield Plain, while Harton and Westoe CW hope to make the most of home advantage in their first round clash with Richmond Town.
Six league games are scheduled to be played.
Following the Christmas break, fifth-top Boldon CA travel to Cleator Moor Celtic for a testing examinsation against the Cumbrian table-toppers.
Manager Paul Mossa hopes to have a full squad available for the long trip west.
Coxhoe Athletic welcome Darlington Reserves to Beechfield Park.
Secretary Paul Charlton said: “Up to now, all the squad are available and we should have a full squad for the game
“I hope we can get a game played this weekend, as we haven’t had many matches over the last couple of months.
“We’re hoping to start the New Year off with a win. Dylan Crooks will make a welcome return to the squad, as will Ryan Jones.”
Prudhoe Town travel to Hartlepool, who have Dean Cope, Ash Clark, Danny Maddison, Jack Swales, Joe Osbourne and Rob Hammond all returning after missing out last time, when they progressed to the Durham County Trophy semi-finals in mid-December.
Aaron Doyle, who was cup-tied against Boldon, is also available again.
Second-top Hebburn Town Reserves entertain sixth-placed Wolviston, with manager Kevin Bolam expecting a hard match.
He said: “We will face a difficult game this weekend, when we meet an in-form Wolviston. They have been playing really well since we last came up against them, so we will have our work cut out.”
Wolviston chief Steve Cook has the luxury of a nearly full squad to choose from, excepting only long-term knee injury absentees Dimitri Kehi and defender David Johnson.
Cook said: “We play three teams above us in the league in January, so it will be a good test for us to see how far we have improved in recent weeks.”
Redcar Athletic, in third place, host lowly Windscale and have Chris Bivens and Joshua Cooper returning to the squad.
Anthony Jones, Stuart Browne, Joe Bennett and Mitchell Morris all miss out.
Visiting manager Dave Wilkinson may have a full squad to choose from, apart from centre-back Dan Morgan, who is still trying to get the day off work, and long-term injury victim Luke Smith.
In the other game, South Shields Reserves head to Stokesley SC.