PICKERING Town manager Paul Marshall is hopeful that players returning from injury will help the Pikes progress ahead of the much-anticipated Northern Counties East League premier division home game against local rivals Bridlington Town.

Marshall has identified absences as a contributing factor to the slump in form at Mill Lane over the past month, while he also seems to be looking to streamline his squad – exemplified by last week’s convincing win over Bottesford Town.

Russell Parker, Frank Belt and Nick Thompson are all available again, but there is likely to be some delay before keeper Harry Andrews comes back.

His work experience replacement from Hull City, Charlie Andrew, has received glowing reviews from Marshall, who said that it is only Andrews’ experience that is missed.

He said: “We’re getting there with injury problems, which was really the reason for our blip.

“We were class last week – it was our best first half of the season.

“Parker, Ryan Blott and Brad Freer – we had Lewis Taylor back too – they were all looking sharp. I’m looking forward to the weekend!”

Joe Danby’s suspension for receiving his fifth booking of the season came as the only negative for Marshall, who says that the balance he provides down the left wing will be missed.

One player who did not feature was veteran defender Sam Denton, who moved to Barton Town this week.

He was a key player last season, and made 20 appearances this term, but was likely to be moved to the fringes of the squad because of recent additions.

Marshall said: “He’s been great for the club. We’ve just gone for a few new centre-backs, so I’m not going to keep him as a squad player.

"He needs game time. Luckily we were able to sort him out a quick move.”

Another recent departure, Alex Davidson, tomorrow may return to Mill Lane with current employers Bridlington Town.

Davidson played an hour in last week’s 2-0 win home win over Staveley Miners Welfare – the Seasiders’ first victory in three games.

With leaders Handsworth Parramore visiting lowly Staveley tomorrow and Pontefract Collieries looking for their sixth consecutive win as they host Maltby Main, odds on third-placed Pickering climbing the table seem slim, but a win would cement their place as genuine title contenders.

Selby Town come into tomorrow's division one game at Winterton Rangers off the back of a six-goal thriller - they lost a two-goal lead in a 3-3 home draw to Ollerton Town.

Rangers last hosted division one leaders Knaresborough Town in a 4-0 loss. Town tomorrow host mid-table AFC Emley.

Premier division strugglers Harrogate Railway Athletic travel to Garforth Town, boosted by their 5-2 victory over Clipstone last week.

Ninth-placed in Evo-Stik League north division, Tadcaster Albion host Trafford tomorrow.

The Brewers' last game was a West Riding County Cup second round 2-1 win over Silsden - their fourth consecutive victory.

Evo-Stik north high-fliers Scarborough Athletic drew 1-1 at home to Trafford last week, and tomorrow visit 13th-placed Colwyn Bay.