NRC Preview: Blackpool v Gateshead

Blackpool coach Martin Crompton is boosted by the return of Johnny Leather and Kurt Haggerty but Dave Best (shoulder) and Casey Mayberry (one match suspension) will miss out.

Panthers lost 34-8 at Barrow last week but Crompton said: “I thought the scoreline didn’t do us any justice. We competed well and we had a dig.

“I couldn’t fault the effort but a few individuals had poor performances and that didn’t help us, but I was delighted that we stuck with it.”

On Gateshead, he added: “We can’t take anything for granted. They’ve had their problems during the off-season but that will have given them a lot of unity and togetherness.

“We’ll give them all the respect they deserve and we know we can’t be complacent.”

Gateshead coach Chris Hood will be forced into changing his halfbacks after Liam Duffy suffered a rib cartilage injury that is likely to keep him sidelined for up to four weeks.

Rhys Clarke is also unavailable after having a pin put into his broken hand.

Hood said: “Liam Duffy took quite a serious injury against Workington and you could see that within our play. We lost a lot of our direction and it showed.

“I’ve watched that game a few times and cannot believe that we’ve lost it. But the fact we’re feeling like that just two games into the season, after such a traumatic winter for the club, gives us real hope.”

He added: “Blackpool are one of the favourites for this year’s Co-operative Championship One and Martin Crompton is a good coach, but as far as we’re concerned it’s all still about us at Gateshead Thunder.

“We want to go and win but the most important thing is how we progress and develop as a team.”

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