South Shields defender Chris Hunter has joined Northern League side West Auckland Town on loan for a month.

Hunter signed for the Mariners from Darlington in the summer after almost a year out with damaged ankle ligaments.

He has been restricted to five competitive appearances so far and the move to West Auckland gives him a chance to regain match sharpness ahead of his return to Mariners Park.

Shields joint manager Graham Fenton said: “Chris was out of action for almost a year, and we feel that getting him out for six or seven games will be massively beneficial for us in the long-term.

“We’re looking forward to following his progress over the next month before he returns.”

The club can now confirm its pre-season schedule for the forthcoming campaign.

Pre-season training will begin on Saturday, June 28, with seven friendlies scheduled to take place in July.

The first game is away at Billingham Synthonia on Saturday, July 5, with kick-off at 3pm.

The next is away at Ashington on Tuesday, July 15, with kick-off at 7pm.

The Mariners will travel to play Horden CW on Saturday, July 19, for a 3pm kick-off.

The next fixture is at Crook Town on Tuesday, July 22, for a 7.30pm kick-off.

On Saturday, July 26, Shields will take on West Auckland Town in a 3pm away fixture.

Two days later, the Mariners will play Spennymoor Town at Peterlee in a 7.30pm kick-off.

The final confirmed fixture is on Wednesday, July 30, when Shields will play Boldon CA away in the Sam Bartram Cup. Kick-off is at 7.30pm.