South Shields kick-off a vital double-header tomorrow when they travel to one of Evo-Stik North’s most in-form sides.
The Mariners are away to sixth-placed Clitheroe, who have enjoyed an upturn of fortunes over recent months.
They have, though, lost their last two games, including a 4-0 reverse at second-placed Hyde United earlier this month.
Shields travel to Hyde on Tuesday, and joint manager Lee Picton feels it could be a crucial few days.
The Mariners go into the double-header sitting top of the league, three points clear of Hyde.
Picton said: “The next two games are potentially really crucial ones.
“Clitheroe have been in a pretty rich vein of form since the turn of the year and are a tricky opponent, especially away from home.
“Then we go to Hyde on Tuesday, which will be an enormous game.
“We have to pick the bones out of what happened in last Saturday’s game against Skelmersdale United, especially what happened in the first half, when we were very displeased with the performance.
“Thankfully we picked up to win 3-1, but we’ll have to make sure we start tomorrow’s match in much better fashion.”
Shields will be without left-back Anthony Callaghan, who is expected to miss the rest of the season with a back injury.
Gavin Cogdon is still sidelined with a hamstring injury, while there are doubts over Darren Lough, Barrie Smith and Matty Pattison.
Carl Finnigan could return after sitting out recent matches with concussion.
Kick-off at Shawbridge - which has a post code of BB7 1LZ - is at 3pm.
Meanwhile, Shields yesterday confirmed Martin Scott has resigned as assistant manager for “business and personal reasons”.
Scott had been assistant to Picton and Graham Fenton since October 2016, but felt now was the right time to leave.
He said: “This was a massive decision I felt I had to make for personal and business reasons.
“I would like to thank Lee and Graham personally for their help and support since I have been at the club.
“Thanks also must go to the club, all the staff and the fantastic supporters.
“Lastly, I want to say a massive thanks to every player in the squad. I love you all. Good luck.
“I now want to concentrate my efforts on my family, my business and making sure the academy at South Shields FC which we helped set up becomes a massive success.”