STL Northern League champions Spennymoor have strengthened their squad as they prepare for Saturday's away game at Billingham Synthonia.

Moors are desperate to regain their title and do well in the FA Vase, so they have signed midfielder Alex Francis from Gateshead and striker Calvin Smith from Blyth. Both will go straight into today’s squad, and more importantly, both are eligible for the Vase. Francis was previously at Newcastle, and was a regular in their reserve side, Defender Paul Stephenson is missing because of suspension, while Craig Ruddy returns. Moors are in second, five points behind Consett with two games in hand.

Synners, who are fifth bottom with just two wins so far, are missing midfielder Andy Harbron and striker Michael Jameson, but Danny Newby, Tommy Marron and David Abel all return. Liam McPhillips has signed for Conference North side Harrogate Town.

League leaders Consett, who have a five point advantage at the top, are at Dunston, and manager Kenny Lindoe could keep the same team that beat South Shields in midweek. Dunston, who are seventh, are boosted by the returns of Lee Bell, Kane Young and Steve Goddard.

Shildon, who are third, are at home to West Allotment, and manager Gary Forrest will give winger Sam Garvie a fitness test, while striker Steve Johnson and defender Lee Chapman are unavailable.

The top game of the day is the local derby between Whitley Bay and Newcastle Benfield. Whitley struggled to beat Bishop Auckland in midweek, and have injury doubts over Craig MacFarlane, Joe Cornforth and Darron Timmons. Benfield manager Paul Baker could keep the same team that drew at Tow Law in midweek. Whitley will be playing in a pink strip in today’s game in support of Breast Cancer Awareness.

Sunderland RCA, who have won three out of their last five league games, are at home to Bedlington, and will give new striker John Ryan, signed from Thornaby, his debut, while midfielder Scott Richards and striker Richard Logan both return. Defender Carl Beasley has joined the RCA on a permanent basis from Spennymoor.

Second bottom Esh Winning, boosted by their win over Ryton last week, are at home to West Auckland, and they include new signing Paul Richardson from Chester-le-Street, and manager Peter Mulcaster could unveil more new faces. West manager Peter Dixon could make changes after his team lost at home to Billingham Town in midweek, but definitely out is injured midfielder Steven Brown.

Stokesley, who haven’t won in eight league matches, are at home to Bishop Auckland, and they welcome midfielder Brian Close and defender Adam Wheatley back into their side, while Bishops, who were agonisingly beaten at Whitley Bay in midweek, will be unchanged.

Billingham Town go to Penrith boosted by their midweek win at West Auckland and they add defender Chris Dunwell to their squad. However, new signing Andy Jennings and midfielder Craig Perry are both injured. Penrith have yet to win at home this season Tow Law, who are in midtable, are at home to Norton, and they will be missing striker Matty Scott, who is suspended, and player-manager Ian Davison, who is injured. Norton have signed former Middlesbrough and Darlington defender Steve Baker, and he goes straight into the team, but five others, including key midfielder Shaun Clarke, are missing because of injury.

Jarrow Roofing will give new signing Mattie Welch, signed from Spennymoor, his debut at home to Ashington, but they will be missing Keith Oliver, Dan Kirkup and Mark Elliott. Ashington have lost their last two league games and are missing several players because of injury.

Ryton, who already look relegation certainties, are at home to South Shields, who hammered them 8-0 in the Vase a month ago. Shields expect to choose from a full squad.