JJ Hooper set for home debut as South Shields host Gainsborough Trinity
A refreshed South Shields return from a two-week break looking to breathe new life into their promotion bid on Saturday.
The Mariners are at home to Gainsborough Trinity a fortnight after their last outing, which saw them draw 1-1 at Atherton Collieries.
They go into Saturday's game third in the Northern Premier League, two points behind leaders Matlock Town, and will come up against a Trinity side sitting 17th.
Manager Graham Fenton is hopeful that the added time on the training pitch will prove to be a benefit to his Shields players.
He said: "Our exit from the FA Trophy gave us a two-week break from match action, which allowed us to concentrate on training and also recharge the batteries with a few days off.
"We believe that is going to benefit the entire squad as we’ve been pretty much full-on since March in terms of training and games.
"In these exceptional circumstances, sometimes a rest and break not just physically but also mentally can benefit players and we’re chomping at the bit to put on a really strong performance and try our best to come away with the three points."
Shields finished the aforementioned Atherton game with nine players on the pitch after Darius Osei and Dan Martin were sent off.
They will be without the suspended duo on Saturday but are set to have striker JJ Hooper available for his home debut.
Hooper joined ahead of the Atherton match and was introduced as a second half substitute, and he has impressed Fenton in training.
He added: "From what we’ve seen in training over the last couple of weeks, JJ has great quality and understanding of his position and he will be a huge benefit to the team going forwards.
"With his experience and maturity, he will be a really good leader for some of the young players to follow due to his unbelievable professionalism.
"We can’t wait to see JJ’s influence on the team materialise, beginning on Saturday."
Joao Gomes and Blair Rossiter stepped up their recoveries from knee injuries in midweek by appearing for the club's Academy side against Gateshead.
Gomes scored a hat-trick in a 3-2 win but it remains to be seen whether either player will be considered ready for a return to first-team action on Saturday.
Jordan Hunter continues to progress well in his recovery from a broken arm but Saturday's game will come too soon for him, with his return to full contact training pencilled in for December 8.
Kick-off in Saturday's game at 1st Cloud Arena is at 3pm and admission prices are £10 for adults, £8 for students, over-65s and disabled supporters, and £3 for under-16s.
Tickets are available in advance from Shields' website but admission can also be paid for at the turnstiles, which will open at 12.30pm.