Dillon Morse is to miss the start of South Shields’ pre-season fixture programme after undergoing groin surgery.

The operation took place in June, with the defender making good progress in his recovery under the guidance of head of physiotherapy and medical Andrew Morris.

He is expected to return to full training in late-July and was this week discharged by his consultant after a final check-up.

JJ Hooper will also miss Saturday’s opening friendly at Berwick Rangers after sustaining a minor hamstring injury in training.

The striker is due to be available to train within the next 10 days.

Meanwhile, a decision is yet to be made over whether Callum Ross will make his long-awaited comeback from a knee injury on Saturday.

Ross underwent surgery earlier this year and has not played in a match since January.

The midfielder returned for pre-season in tremendous shape and topped many of the early fitness tests.

Manager Kevin Phillips said: “Callum came back unbelievably fit, but we’ve got to be very careful and manage him properly as he returns to match action.

“It will be a joint decision between Callum, Andy and myself as to whether he is available to play on Saturday.

“There are no heroes in the first two weeks of pre-season. It’s all about being fit for the start of the league campaign.

“If Callum does miss out on Saturday it will be as a precautionary measure, as we have to choose the most sensible option.”

South Shields suffered late disappointment as a header five minutes into second half stoppage time denied them maximum points at Gainsborough Trinity on Saturday.

The Mariners were on course to move level on points with Pitching In Northern Premier League leaders Buxton until Stefan Galinski’s equaliser at the death.

Dillon Morse had headed Shields into a first half lead but the away side were unable to hang on as they remained two points off the top with four league matches remaining.

In-form Darius Osei was a key part of the Shields frontline and he had the first opportunity of the game, sending a powerful half-volley into the side netting after controlling a Robert Briggs pass with his chest.

The hosts had a decent chance of their own when Cameron Johnson linked up with Jovon Makama before scooping a shot wide from 12 yards.

There was little in the way of clear-cut openings from either side, though the Mariners did look the more threatening outfit and after Blair Adams dragged an effort wide from the left of the area, they found the breakthrough from a set-piece 10 minutes before half-time.

Briggs floated an inviting corner to the back post and Morse headed it down and into the net to hand Shields a lead they would carry into the break comfortably.

A response was expected from the home side after the interval and Gainsborough delivered that. They went close within five minutes of the restart when Morgan Worsfold-Gregg teased in a delivery from the left which just evaded a touch and dropped narrowly wide.

Myles Boney kept out a volley from Galinski but was beaten by a low strike from Johnson which whistled inches past the post.

Trinity were generating momentum but Shields held firm, with Gainsborough mainly restricted to efforts from distance. One of them came from substitute Jack Gibson and was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Boney.

Osei had a good chance to effectively make the points safe, but his shot from close range cleared the crossbar.

Gainsborough pressurised their visitors in the closing stages, with Makama denied by a brilliant block from Jack Bodenham and then hitting the post with a free-kick from 20 yards three minutes into stoppage time. The resulting scramble was eventually cleared.

Shields will have hoped that was the stroke of luck they needed to see the game out, but it was not to be.

With almost the last action of the match, Worsfold-Gregg curled in a free-kick from 15 yards outside the Shields box and Galinski rose highest to nod it into the bottom corner and seal Gainsborough a point.

It was a bitter blow for the Mariners but with four games remaining, they remain very much in the title race.

They will aim to boost their chances when they host Stalybridge Celtic next Saturday.

South Shields: Boney, Hunter, Adams (c), Shaw, Morse, Bodenham, Wilding, Briggs, Hodgson (Hooper 67), McGowan (Jenkins 48), Osei (Main 84). Subs not used: Kempster, Tee.

Goal: Morse (35).

Attendance: 807.

Image: Kev Wilson.

Kevin Phillips’ managerial career got off to a winning start as two goals inside a blistering first 16 minutes steered South Shields to a brilliant victory at Warrington Town on Saturday.

Dillon Morse and Cedric Main netted to hand the Mariners a two-goal advantage which was halved midway through the first half as the hosts attempted a comeback.

Shields stood firm, though, and held off some late Warrington pressure to climb to second in the Pitching In Northern Premier League.

It was a difficult test for Phillips in his first game as a manager, with the Yellows having lost just one of their previous 14 league matches to climb to fifth in the table.

He made just one change to the Shields team which lined up against Radcliffe a week earlier, with Robert Briggs introduced in place of Will Jenkins.

A fast start was the order of the day and the Mariners delivered just that to quickly establish a smile on Phillips’ face.

Briggs and JJ Hooper were off target with early sighters of goal before Shields went in front on 13 minutes.

Nathan Lowe’s corner was hooked goalwards by Briggs and blocked before Hooper was also denied by a defender. This time the ball bounced to Morse and his header had enough power on it to beat home goalkeeper Daniel Atherton and get the Phillips era off and running.

One quickly became two when Main darted inside from the left channel and rifled a low strike which took a nick off a defender and flew past Atherton as the forward netted his first goal for the club.

It was a dream start and the Mariners almost established what might have been an unassailable advantage midway through the first half as Briggs was played in on goal and rounded Atherton, but just as he was about to find an empty net he was denied by a tremendous last-ditch tackle by Evan Gumbs which kept Warrington in the game.

That point was emphasised just three minutes later when the Yellows halved the deficit, with James Baillie’s scuffed effort from the right of the area prodded in by the lively Luke Duffy from close range.

The goal buoyed the home side and they threatened an equaliser when Jordan Buckley cut inside from the left, but his powerful shot from outside the box went wide.

Shields quickly re-established control and there were chances for Hooper and Briggs, whose strikes from 20 yards were narrowly off target.

At the other end, Duffy powered into the side netting after twisting and turning inside the area as the Mariners went into the half-time break with a deserved lead.

They could have gone further ahead in what was a bright start to the second half, but Briggs whipped a shot wide from the edge of the box, a cross-shot from Will McGowan was tipped wide by Atherton and Hooper curled narrowly past the post.

Shields were in control and their cause was aided with 16 minutes left when Warrington’s James Harris was sent off for two bookings.

However, the hosts threw caution to the wind in their search of a point and threatened with some direct play in the closing stages.

The closest they came was a sweet strike from 20 yards by Sean Williams which went just wide, but the Mariners held firm to see the game out and secure a third consecutive victory.

They will bid to maintain their momentum on Tuesday when they take on Witton Albion at 1st Cloud Arena.

South Shields: Moloney, Rose, Adams (c), McGowan, Morse, Bodenham, Tee, Lowe, Hooper (Osei 64), Briggs, Main (Kempster 78). Subs not used: Shaw, Jenkins, Hodgson.

Goals: Morse (13), Main (16).

Attendance: 1,024.

Image: Kev Wilson.