AFTER three weeks of frustrating postponements, Crooklands Casuals are watching the weather forecast anxiously once again.

Hopes are high that tomorrow’s derby clash with rivals Ulverston Rangers at Longlands Park will go ahead, with both teams keen to move away from the relegation zone in the West Lancashire League Division One.

Crooklands manager Mark McAloone was in a positive mood after a hard-working training session on Wednesday night.

“The lads are ready for it,” he said. “They want to play football and I’ve spoken to the groundsman, who said the pitch is playable.

“But it’s all about what happens between now and Saturday, and we have to hope the rain stays away.”

If it does beat the weather, the match looks set to be a closely fought encounter between two sides who are neck and neck in the league table.

Crooklands are the highest placed in 12th. They have five points more than 13th placed Ulverston, but the latter have two games in hand.

“In a derby match, it’s about who wants it the most,” said McAloone. “Our training session on Wednesday encouraged me because there was a bit of hail and sleet.

“We could have called it off early, but the players wanted to stay out there and put the work in.

“Both teams are fighting for their lives in the division and there’s a lot at stake. This game is a six-pointer.”

It has been a challenging first season at Longlands Park for ex-Furness Cavaliers boss McAloone.

Key players have been injured at different times throughout the campaign, and even three weeks of weather-related postponements has not given him a fully fit squad.

Captain Steve Caskie will sit out tomorrow’s game, while Ryan Rodgers will be unavailable due to family commitments.

David Graves, who has been hampered with injuries all season, will also be on the sidelines, as will centre half Ross Coulson.

However, the club’s all-time leading goalscorer Dave Mansergh looks set to start, after returning from suspension and recovering from a bout of illness.

“These things happen in football,” said McAloone. “It’s about having a squad and the injury situation allows other players to come in and stake a claim. We have quality throughout the squad.

“Everybody is working extremely hard to get results. Before the postponements we had a good run, and we’ll be looking to go out there and do all we can to get three vital points on the board.”