Preview: Rochdale v Gateshead

Mark Hobson remains sidelined while Dayne Donoghue is unlikely to play in the “foreseeable future” due to work commitments.

However, Steven Roper is set to return for Hornets. Coach John Stankevitch said: “Steven probably won’t start the game, having not had any competitive action for six weeks, but he’s a player that we’ve missed and we want him back as soon as possible.”

Stankevitch added: “We had mixed emotions last week. Bearing in mind that we went up to York without seven players due to work commitments and injury, and the amount of money that York have spent this season, I’d have definitely taken a bonus point before the game.

“At half time I was really disappointed with what we’d produced but by the end of the game I was disappointed not to have come away with three points.”

He added: “The penny still seems not to have dropped with the lads yet. We play some fantastic stuff at times, but sometimes we come up with errors that cost us the ball, field position and points. We’ve got to find that balance between playing expansive rugby and completing our sets.”

Bolu Fagborun (mouth infection) and Andy Saywell are available but not expected to feature, while Damien Reid returns from illness.

Gateshead half back Will Bate has been ruled out for a month with a broken finger, but Jason Payne and James Hall could both return for Thunder in Monday’s Co-operative Championship One trip to Rochdale.

Gateshead director of rugby Chris Hood said: “Jason and James had their first full contact session on Tuesday, and both felt great.

“We will see how they are on Thursday evening and assess the situation from there.”

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