Charlestown Azzurri and Valentine have question marks over their defence as they prepare for a catch-up clash on Sunday at Lisle Carr Oval.
The game is the only Northern NSW NPL match this weekend as the competition rests after five rounds.
Valentine are last and yet to earn a point, while Charlestown have just three points to sit eighth, making a win important for both sides.
Charlestown are backing up from a 4-2 FFA Cup win over Kahibah on Wednesday night in which defender Zac Lloyd (knee) was an early casualty and No.1 keeper Nathan Archbold was rested.
Azzurri coach Graham Law welcomes Archbold back, while Lloyd could make a quicker than expected recovery.
"He's 50-50, he reckons he's got a chance now of being fit, so we'll see," Law said. "I think it's a pretty big game for both teams."
Valentine, meanwhile, have released defender Jacob Farrell to join the Central Coast Mariners Youth squad.
Player-coach Adam Hughes (hamstring) could be another loss in defence. He missed last week's 4-0 defeat to Broadmeadow and said he was "50-50" to return on Sunday. Phoenix also have Joshua Winiarczyk (ankle) sidelined.
Hughes, a former Charlestown player, did not expect the midweek match to affect Azzurri's performance on Sunday.
"They are a good team," he said.
"They have probably gone under the radar, after missing out on some results as well, but it's still early days in the season.
"They've got some good players there and we've got to go out there with some respect for them. But if we put our best foot forward, we have every chance.
"We could have come out of some matches with a result but for different reasons, it hasn't quite clicked at the moment.
"It's a rebuild of a squad so we've got a lot of young kids so it's going to take time. That's natural."
Hughes was pleased to see Farrell, a Central Coast product, get his chance at an A-League club after a strong start to the season.
"He's impressed and for me he was the best left fullback in the league," Hughes said.
"He's only 18 and I think he has a good chance to make it as a professional."
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