PREMIERSHIP title-chasers Newcastle United are bringing a multi-million pound line-up to play a lowly County Durham team this week, as a favour to a former player.

While Shearer, Bellamy and co carry the hopes of Magpies fans to glamorous grounds such as Old Trafford and the Stadium of Light, their reserves will play a whole new ball game between clubs which are leagues apart.

UniBond League side Bishop Auckland's Kingsway terraces are due to be bulldozed after this season and manager Alan Shoulder wanted to stage one last big match before his side bows out with a gala in April.

Mr Shoulder asked his old friend, Tommy Craig, to bring United's reserves for a game which should raise enough money to keep the Bishops going until the season closes.

Both men played for Newcastle, although not at the same time, and teamed up at Carlisle, in 1983.

Some of Newcastle's exciting young talent will use the game, on Thursday, to Kingsway to gain match fitness.

Carl Cort is likely to continue his fight back from a knee ligament injury by playing at least some of the game.

England Under 21 Shola Ameobi, £2.5m striker Lua Lua and England Under 19 Michael Chopra, of Crook, are in the probable squad named by Mr Craig yesterday.

The match will revive memories of Manchester United's game at Kingsway in 1996, which was arranged by The Northern Echo.

The Bishops were only days away from folding when the Old Trafford club sent a star-studded side to Kingsway for a similar fundraiser.

Mr Shoulder said: "Some of the Newcastle players could be turning out for the first team against Sunderland a few days after the game with us.

"There are plenty of leagues between us. They are flying and we are trying to keep above the relegation zone in the Unibond.

"They are only too happy to take the opportunity for some match practice."

The game starts at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £5, or £1 for children with adults.