ILKLEY are gearing up for a crucial clash at the weekend as they return to action after a fortnight.

Rhys Morgan's side travel to the North East on Saturday to take on Alnwick, who are one place above them, but also on 51 points, in the North Premier.

Despite the wintry weather, which impacted on the local sport's fixtures, seventh-placed Ilkley had a blank weekend anyway ad the squad took the opportunity to rest up ahead of the busy months of the season ahead.

The Stacks Field side will also be looking to continue their winning run after grabbing a victory in their previous game, when they defeated Rossendale 20-3 on January 26.

But they will be without No 8 Max McKay for Saturday's trip to Alnwick as he fully recovers from a shoulder injury. Morgan said McKay will be "wrapped in cotton wool" this weekend but he hopes his influential player will return in time for their home date with Wirral on Saturday, February 16.

The club's head of rugby said: "Alnwick is an important league game for us. We need to get an away win now.

"It will be a tough draw at Alnwick. We need to be ready for it, as it's a long trip.

"We lost at home to Alnwick earlier this season, but now we have an opportunity to put it right on Saturday. The lads are having a night out in Newcastle on Saturday, but their minds are fully on the game first.

"We want to at least hold our league position. We beat Rossendale and moved down a place. It's a tough league.

"We finished in seventh place last year and we want to beat that this year.

"Our objective has been to win every week. We want to win every game.

"During the nine years I have been involved we have taken it one game at a time.

"We want to beat Alnwick and if it puts us higher up the table, then that is a bonus.

"I'm hoping that the boys having a break last weekend will mean that they have got their leads together for this weekend.

"We need to back up the Rossendale win really."

Morgan added he hopes his side remain light on the injury front during a critical stage of the campaign, but other players can offer offer further competition for places.

He said: "We have got such a light squad, we have been lucky with injuries this year.

"Apart from the odd change, we have been pretty consistent this season. We have not been hit massively by injuries.

"I want to see guys like Ben Waddington pushing for a place, so I can have a look at guys like him. I want them to get involved in the first-team."