By Daniel Prince. Image by Peter Talbot.
Julio Arca is set to make his South Shields debut on Saturday, with Stokesley Sports Club the visitors to Mariners Park.
The former Sunderland and Middlesbrough crowd favourite joined Shields last week, and the Argentine completed his first training session with his new team-mates on Thursday.
The midfielder has been backed to slot straight into the team by manager Jon King.
He said: “The transfer is something which has been going on for the last six weeks.
“Julio was always interested in signing, and it’s great to have him here.
“Only a couple of years ago, he was playing in the Championship for Middlesbrough. He’ll bring all of the right attributes we’re looking for.
“He’s very professional, a fantastic footballer and still has good fitness. I think he’ll fit in straightaway, especially with the football we’re trying to play.”
Stokesley are bottom of Ebac Northern League Division Two, having lost all nine games so far this term, but the Mariners are not about to take them lightly.
King added: “We don’t get carried away with the table, and where teams are.
“We beat Darlington RA 6-0 last month and they’re top of the league, so that shows how unpredictable it can be.
“If we do our job, we know it should be comfortable, but we can’t afford to be complacent.”
Dean Thexton is another player who could make his Shields debut, having joined the club from Willington.
King is hopeful of another bumper crowd after 642 watched last week’s game against Easington Colliery at Mariners Park.
He said: “Hopefully, we’ll have another big crowd. It was great to have almost 650 there last week, and it would be fantastic to get even more in.
“Once people come along, we need to bring them back. We need to give them something to come back for.
“It’s important we get good results, play attractive football and impress as much as we can.
“A lot of teams have never played in front of crowds like these, so they seem to be getting a lift from that.
“We have to be the team which gets the lift. The crowd is there for us.
“We need to get that crowd on our side and we’ll only do that by putting good performances in.”
Shields will be without David Foley and Adam Sakr for the 3pm kick-off, while Stephen Ramsey and Wayne Phillips are doubtful.
Entry costs £5 for adults, £3 for students and over-65s, and £1 for under-16s.
You can also buy a copy of The Mariner – Shields’ matchday programme – for £2 at the ground, with Arca the cover star for this edition (below).