JARROW Roofing boss Richie McLoughlin hopes the return of striker Paul Robinson will give his side an added edge in their promotion bid.
Former Newcastle United and Wimbledon striker Robinson has re-signed for the club after a spell at Newton Aycliffe at the start of the season.
With Roofing desperate to stay on the coat-tails of the early pacesetters in the Northern League Division Two table, McLoughlin believes Robinson’s return could inspire the rest of the charges.
And he says the striker’s comeback will not only assist the team on the pitch, but galvanise them off it too.
McLoughlin said: “I’m hoping Robbo will give us some more firepower. He was dying to come back.
“But we also needed his presence in the changing room, as well as on the pitch.”
Robinson got his Roofing career off to a flier the first time around, bagging a hatful of goals in the early parts of the last campaign before leaving for a spell at a team down south.
He returned in the latter stages of the season, and was immediately back among the goals, but they weren’t enough to save Roofing from relegation, despite their fantastic form in the last two months of the campaign.
Robinson’s second debut didn’t go according to plan, as Roofing slumped to a 3-0 defeat at home to Darlington RA, and McLoughlin admitted he was impressed with their opponents.
He added: “Darlington were much better than us – it was just one of those nights where we were very poor, and they deserved the three points.
“They are my tip to be in the top three – if not top – at the end of the season.”
Elsewhere, SOUTH SHIELDS and HEBBURN TOWN are both on the FA Vase trail tomorrow.
The competition is hugely important to both sides, given the prestige and prize money on offer if they advance through the rounds, but the clubs go into the clash with different fortunes.
Hebburn are on a roll, and the fact that they must travel to fellow Northern League Division One side Consett will not worry them.
In fact, playing away from home may suit Paul Bennett’s side more, given their form on the road this season.
Tuesday’s fantastic 5-2 win at Billingham Town was their sixth in all competitions away from home this season, as they sit fifth in the table, while in contrast, Consett are sixth bottom.
Bennett was without dangerous strike duo Liam McBryde and Stuart Nicholson on Tuesday, with the latter on the bench after his injury, but Tony Stephenson took his chance with a stunning hat-trick to stake his claim to keep his place, even when the pair return to full fitness.
Bennett has been delighted with his side’s form, and praised their performance at Billingham.
“Everything I asked the lads to do, they delivered,” he said. “Our shape, the workrate and clinical finishing made the three points safe.
“We’ve had a good, solid start to the season that gives us a platform to build on, but we’ll keep our feet on the ground and just take each game as it comes.”
Shields, meanwhile, will look to put defeats in their last four games behind them when they travel to Leeds to face Yorkshire Amateurs in their second qualifying round tie.
Manager Jon King must decide whether to ring the changes after the midweek defeat against Team Northumbria, with goalkeeper Ben Starford definitely out of the game after dislocating his finger on Tuesday.