The Maitland Magpies welcome back Matt Comerford and Sean Pratt for a potentially season defining stretch of three games in six days.
After heavy weekend rain, the Magpies were hoping to have their first training session at Cooks Square Park on Friday night as they prepare for Valentine at Maitland on Sunday and away games to Weston on Wednesday night and Newcastle Olympic at Darling Street the following Saturday.
"It's a big week, so we will have to manage the squad and rotate them about a bit over the three games," Magpies coach Mick Bolch said.
"Everyone bar Edgy and Azzuri have got three games next week. Anyone who can come away with three wins from those three games really sets their season up for themselves.
"Really need to get the three points every game in this shortened competition."
Comerford has returned from a hamstring injury after two weeks rather than the expected four weeks and Pratt is finding fitness after a limited second pre-season with an ankle injury.
"Cummo trained all last week and would have been coming off the bench against Weston last week. We thought two to four weeks, but he did it in two. It really shows how much rehabilitation work he is willing to do to get back on the field" Bolch said.
"Pratty's preparation had been hampered by an ankle injury. He only resumed training the week the competition started and he played about 30 minutes in reserve grade against Lakes and 15 minutes in first grade.
"He'll gradually work his way into 30 to 40 minutes off the bench in first grade and then hopefully a starting spot."
The tightened schedule followed wash-outs in all Northern NSW NPL fixtures on Sunday including the much anticipated El Clasicoal derby between Maitland and Weston at Weston.
Edgeworth defeated Charlestown Azzuri 1-0 on Monday night, with all other fixtures rescheduled to Wednesday, August 5.
Bolch said Maitland needed to be at their best on Sunday against a Valentine team which features former Magpie Alex Reed.
"Valentine did well two weeks ago, they finished two-all at Olympic but led 2-0, 20 minutes into the game," he said. "They've got some good players in their side.
"Alex Reed has gone down there. Danny Ireland is one of the best keepers in the comp, Adam Hughes, Jacob Bailey from Olympic and Danny Hayes from Jaffas have also joined them. On paper they are a really strong squad."
After a disappointing opening round 4-1 loss to Edgeworth, the Magpies conceded a goal within a minute against Lake Macquarie City before slamming home four and blowing plenty more chances.
"We've spoken about being clinical, and it will come in the next couple of games."