RUNCORN Linnets boss Steve Carragher believes his squad has the power to take care of the opposition. North West Counties League football is a new experience.

And ahead of tomorrow's home debut against Castleton Gabriels at Witton Albion's Wincham Park (ko 8pm), the player-manager admitted the Rochdale-based side are an un-known quantity.

'The reports we've had on them suggest that they are big and strong,' he said.

'But I am more concerned with us this year because we have a strong squad to compete at this level.'

Left-back Scott Forster has so far been ham-strung by working commitments.

Brothers James and Scott Swales plus fellow Runcornians Dave Tierney and Gaz Lupton are also among those yet to feature.

The only doubt concerns midfieldman James Edwards (ribs).

Thomas Lamb and David Thompson should get first starts after missing Saturday's 4-0 opening-day win at Ashton Town.

Carragher understandably kept faith with the same 11 for Tuesday's 3-2 Cheshire Senior Cup defeat at UniBond League One side Alsager Town - although defender Paul Davies also came onto the bench alongside the two returning forwards.

The Castleton match is being sponsored by Lloyds TSB of High Street as Runcorn bid to bounce back from the midweek cup setback, which ended hopes of a potential second-round tie at Northwich Victoria.

Runcorn exited after playing for more than an hour with 10 men.

Carragher's boldness in introducing his two sub strikers on midfieldman Kenny Rollinson's 27th-minute dismissal did not quite pay off - despite both scoring.

Carl Robinson's 21st-minute penalty - for a foul by Rollinson, who was cautioned for dis-sent - gave Alsager the lead.

When Rollinson then saw a second yellow - and red - for a two-footed tackle, Linnets promptly brought on Lamb and Thompson.

The latter responded on 34 minutes with his first Runcorn goal after charging down the keeper's clearance from a back-pass.

But Joe Gibiliru's stoppage-time header restored the Bullets' advantage.

Blackhurst escaped with a warning for a bad challenge on Linnets skipper Ricky Newell before Robinson calmly lobbed George Caulfield for his second (66 mins).

Having missed chances and rattled the home bar through Paddy O'Driscoll's humdinger - either side of Alsager's third - Runcorn hit back. But an 80th-minute Lamb penalty could not save them.