Northallerton manager Paul Burton would settle for third place and promotion come May as the Second Division leaders prepare for their promotion battle against Newcastle Blue Star today.

Northallerton are five points clear of Washington Nissan, with Blue Star and West Allotment both hard on their heels.

Burton said: "If I was offered third place at the end of the season now I would take it, because there are some very tough games coming up.

"Having said that, we're playing with plenty of confidence and we're suited by the pitches drying out."

Midfielder Steve Cochrane is suspended for Northallerton, while Star, who haven't played for a month because of the weather, are at full strength.

The two basement clubs in the Second Division, Easington and Willington, meet at Welfare Park.

Willington won only their second game of the season in midweek against Washington and are hoping they've started a revival which will help them close the ten-point gap to safety.

Chris Sawyers continues in the Willington goal in place of the suspended Peter Coe, while defender Stuart Rand is doubtful.

In the First Division, leaders Dunston, unbeaten in 29 league games this season, are at home to Durham City.

New signings Michael Laws, from Blyth, and Alex Benjamin, from Prudhoe, are included in the Dunston squad, while Durham are without striker Micky Dunwell because of a broken leg, while Kevin Dixon is suspended. City are hoping to announce their new manager early next week.

Billingham Synthonia, who are two points behind Dunston but have played two games more, are at home to bottom club Guisborough.

Full back Liam Smith could make a surprise return after recovering from injury, otherwise they will be at full-strength. Guisborough, ten points adrift of safety, have several injury problems.

In the relegation battle, Brandon, who are fifth bottom with seven games remaining, need victory at home to Whitley Bay.

Keeper Danny Yates returns, but defender Marc Irwin is suspended, while winger David Foley and keeper Jim Winter are on Durham Challenge Cup duty with Hartlepool Reserves. Whitley are without midfielder Paddy Little, otherwise they are at full strength.

West Auckland, who have lost their last five matches, are at home to Chester-le-Street, and they are missing striker Colin Lawton, who broke a leg at Thornaby on Tuesday.

Defenders Paul Stout and Darryl Hall are both likely to return. Chester have an injury doubt over midfielder Paul Richardson but Mark Errington and Gary Draper are expected to return.

Consett, who are sixth bottom, are at third-placed Benfield Saints and hope to complete the signing of defender Neil Green from Morpeth. The signing of former Hartlepool midfielder Tony Skedd appears to have fallen through, but defender Stephen Brown is added to the squad. Benfield expect to be unchanged.

Bottom club Tow Law, who have all but two of their remaining games at home, have another game to squeeze in after their match with Esh Winning at Ironworks Road was postponed because of a waterlogged pitch.

Peterlee are at Ashington without player-manager Paul Hinton because of injury, while midfielder Steve Winspear is playing for Middlesbrough academy. Paul Harvey, Chris Emms and Danny Cobain all return. Ashington are without injured leading scorer Alan Hogg.

Horden boss Alan Robinson faces his old club Billingham Town just over a month after leaving them.

He includes striker Chris I'Anson, who has returned to the club after spells at Spennymoor and Bishop Auckland, while former Billingham Town player Jason Ainsley also comes back. Robinson also includes another new signing, left back Steve Gilling. Town are close to full strength.

FA Vase semi-finalists Bedlington face Shildon at Welfare Park, and both sides expect to have full squads to choose from.

In the other Second Division matches, second-placed Washington Nissan are at home to Crook and should be at full strength, with three players returning after missing the midweek win at Hebburn. Crook, who lost 4-2 at South Shields on Tuesday night, also expect to be at full strength.

West Allotment, who are fourth, are at Seaham Red Star and will be at full strength, while Seaham are without defender Rob Southern.

Evenwood manager Brian Maitland will ring the changes for their away game at Whickham, who beat them 5-1 in midweek.