Keighley welcome back two key players from injury as they bid to get 2013 off to a flier at Northern on Saturday.
Scott Dyson (rib) and Stuart Inman (knee) return to the fray for a Rose Cottage side determined to hit the ground running in the new year.
Injuries have hindered Keighley since they made the step up to North One East but victory over Darlington in their last game before Christmas – ending a nine-game losing streak – and the return to fitness of several experienced players has given them renewed hope they can climb to safety in the second half of the season.
Director of rugby Graeme Sheffield said: “We see this as a new start. The lads from the second team who have come in have been absolutely fantastic.
“It’s been a revelation to see how much strength in depth we have. But we’ve had to put so many in at once.
“They are all good enough to play first team but we would have liked to have introduced them one or two at a time.
“Injuries have meant we’ve had to throw half of dozen of them in at once and rely on them.”
With his squad now approaching a clean bill of health, Sheffield believes his side are capable of stringing a run together.
He said: “It will make a huge difference if we can stay injury-free. Strength, power and experience all count for a lot.
“We welcome Scott Dyson back and (back row) Stuart Inman is back after a few successful outings with the seconds.
“We’ve really missed him as rugby teams need leaders and Stuart became a leader last year.”
Tomorrow’s trip to New-castle is the first of three away trips this month (along with Middlesbrough and Sheffield), with the visit of second-placed Wheatley Hills completing a tough-looking January.
But Sheffield insists Keighley can go into it with confidence. He said: “We’ve targeted January as a very important month. We see Northern as an achievable victory.
“We only lost to them by three points at home when we were still finding our feet.
“They hit us very hard very quickly and left us dumb-founded but we should be up to speed now and know what to expect.
“Middlesbrough are only just above is in the table and we always play well at Sheffield.
“We were annihilated at Wheatley but they are not doing quite as well as they were and I don’t think they travel as well.”
The squad for Saturday was selected last night but, with Danny McGee unavail-able, Dyson is set to play at scrum half, with Alex Brown moving to fly half.
Prop Paul Sinfield is available again but second-row Ashley Waligura has a leg injury which makes him doubtful.
l Keighley juniors Samuel Grant, Ryan Gibson and Harry Gallagher have been selected for the West Yorkshire under-13 squad after impressing at a trial at Ilkley.