'The fixture list is killing us' - Seaham Red Star boss hits out at Northern League over intense schedule
Seaham Red Star manager Mark Collingwood believes that the Northern League need to do more to support their clubs.
Red Star are sat second from bottom in the Division One table ahead of Saturday’s trip to Shildon – their seventeenth game in all competitions this season.
Collingwood is dealing with a raft of injuries ahead of their visit to Dean Street and has a number of concerns over the fitness of key players.
A hamstring injury has ruled Sean McRoberts out of the game and Jordan Fry’s knee problems mean that he will also be unavailable.
Young duo Morgan Dart and Taylor Richardson will also miss the game with ankle and groin injuries and Collingwood will take a late check on the fitness of Scott Young and Dan Wilson.
Captain David Robinson misses out as he serves the last game of a three-match suspension.
Collingwood insisted that his selection problems are down to the increased workload placed upon his squad in a new-look Mitre Sports Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup format.
Group stages were introduced for this season’s competition and that has led to a hectic schedule for Red Star after they made progress in the Durham Challenge Cup, FA Vase and FA Cup.
Collingwood told The Echo: “I think the Northern League haven’t supported their clubs because the League Cup is meaning we haven’t had a midweek off so far this season.
“I get the thinking behind the new format, but it’s killing us, and it will be the same for other clubs too.
“And the Durham Challenge Cup has come in earlier so it’s a real strain on clubs with smaller squads.
“I am playing kids and players that are injured and that shouldn’t have to happen.
“Players like Sean McRoberts are playing with injuries, and he’s come in, then had to go off within 15 minutes of the game.
“We haven’t trained all season; we can’t get players fully fit and it’s killing us.
“The fixture list is killing us, and I think we need more support from the league to be honest.
“We shouldn’t be playing League Cup games in the week before a Vase game or an FA Cup game.
“We need more support when they are scheduling or re-scheduling games League Cup games because we shouldn’t be playing them ahead of games in national competitions.”
Sunderland RCA will hope to build on their last-gasp draw against leaders Hebburn Town when they host in-form West Auckland Town.
A late Dylan Elliott penalty ensured that RCA took a point from the Hornets and they will now focus on collecting all three against a West side that are targeting a fourth consecutive win in the league.
Manager Martin Swales will have striker Mark Davison back – but Ross Preston remains unavailable.
Defender Alex Storey will also miss the game after joining Darlington on a dual-registration earlier this week.
Ashington are awaiting news on the fitness of Damien Stevens, Dylan Williamson and Dom Price ahead of their home game against Ryhope CW.
One player definitely missing for the Colliers is captain Curtis Coppen as he continues his recovery from an injury.
Captain Louis Storey faces a late fitness test ahead of Hebburn Town’s visit to Whickham and two sides hoping to take advantage of any slip-ups by Kevin Bolam’s side meet at the Coverall Stadium as Stockton Town host Consett.
Elsewhere, North Shields will have a late check on the fitness of striker Gareth Bainbridge ahead of their home game against Billingham Town and Guisborough Town could be without the likes of Anthony Snook, Stephen Snaith and Mason McNeill for their visit to Newcastle Benfield.
Whitley Bay are targeting their first win in six league games when they travel to Newton Aycliffe and Thornaby will hope to build on last weekend’s impressive win at leaders Hebburn Town when they host Penrith.
Northallerton Town will look to move away from the lower reaches of the table when they entertain Bishop Auckland at the Calvert Stadium.