NEWCASTLE representative coach Shane Burley has backed leg-spinner Aaron Bills to return from a hamstring injury for next weekend's NSW Country Championships final on home turf.
Burley says Bills, sidelined from the current first-grade fixture, continues to eye off the rematch of last year's decider with Central Coast at No.1 Sportsground on December 10.
"He's getting treatment, but I'd like to think he'll be okay," Burley told the Newcastle Herald.
"He was in a fair bit of discomfort throughout the tournament [northern pool] but he's a pretty tough cookie and showed plenty of character which was good from him.
"I think he was in a bit more pain than he was letting on. It bruised really badly but he still went about his job.
"He's a really key player for us. Obviously a NSW Country player, a good team man, one of our better fielders and handy with the bat. He's a good three-skills cricketer."
Left-arm paceman Pat Magann (hamstring) has already been ruled out for the showdown as Newcastle strive for a record-extending fifth straight title.
Burley didn't reveal Magann's replacement on Wednesday but Daniel Williams will be an option to join openers Josh Bennett and Josh McTaggart in the 13-man squad.
"We'll see how people get through this weekend, see how Billsy's tracking and name the side next week," Burley said.
Central Coast progressed based on seedings after a rain-affected carnival in Orange over the weekend.