Steve Burr has to decide how best to replace suspended top scorer Sean McConville for the home game with Gateshead on Saturday (3pm).

McConville has been an effective operator in an advanced role with six goals to his name but reached five bookings and an automatic one-match ban in the 3-1 midweek loss to Macclesfield Town.

Burr has a number of potential replacements available to choose from with Rhys Oates one option after his promising cameo off the bench at Moss Rose.

Oates, on loan from Barnsley, could start alongside Craig Hobson in a two-man attack but Burr could push John Rooney further forward and partner Josh O'Keefe, loaned from Kidderminster Harriers, with Kingsley James in midfield.

Peter Winn seems unlikely to be involved but there might be a recall for Wayne Riley with both Jamie Menagh and Ibou Touray struggling to make an impression against Macclesfield.

Chester go into the game after back-to-back league defeats, conceding three times in both games, but are protecting a five-match unbeaten run at the Swansway Chester Stadium.

Matty Hughes will not be involved as he completes a three-game ban but defender Michael Kay returns from suspension.

He was in good form before being sent off in the FA Cup win at Stockport County and but Matty Brown and Kieran Charnock have done well in his absence so might have to make do with a place on the bench.

Gateshead are third in the table and won 2-1 when the sides met back in August, although had to come from behind to do so.

Hobson gave the Blues the lead in the first half but the Heed equalised on 67 minutes through a Jon Shaw penalty before Jamie Chandler got the winner with 10 minutes to go.

Burr was disappointed with the the defeat at Macclesfield, not so much with the performance but because his side dominated large parts of the game but failed to convert some excellent chances.

“Anybody who knows about football could see that it wasn’t a 3-1 where it’s a poor performance but unfortunately nowadays people look at the result and you’ll probably get criticism for losing," said Burr.

“It’s sometimes no consolation when you’re telling that to the players when you’ve lost but I really thought the level of our performance was good.

“Gateshead will be a tough side to beat but we are looking forward to that because it’s been a while since we’ve been at home.”

Gateshead drew 3-3 at home to Lincoln City on Tuesday with the managerless Imps equalising in time added-on from the spot.

Heed boss Gary Mills was frustrated with only taking a point but, like Burr, saw lots of positives even if the end result was not one of them.

Mills said: "I thought it was a game where we showed that we have a lot of qualities as a team. We started the game well, and played with the kind of tempo that I want us to play with.

"We showed a lot of character to come from behind twice, and to go on and take the lead.

"And then came the disappointment but as is always the case in football, there are different kinds of emotions involved.

"And now it’s about how we react to it. Do you look at it positively because we came back and reacted to going behind twice? Or do you let a last-minute penalty affect you and start feeling sorry for yourselves?

"I know what I’m going to do and the same will apply to my players."

Mills has hinted he will shuffle his pack for the trip to Cheshire and expects the Blues to provide strong opposition.

"In Steve Burr, they have a manager who knows the league – and that is a big plus for Chester," said Mills.

"They had a great result in the FA Cup last week – winning down at Southend (United) – and it’ll be another tough game for us but we’ve got a good away record, and we want to maintain that.

"If we play as we did down at Aldershot (Town) a fortnight ago, then we’ll win the game."

Mills won the European Cup in 1980 as an 18-year-old with Nottingham Forest and, as he has done with all eight clubs he has managed, has instilled Brian Clough’s attacking principles at the Heed.

Gateshead score goals, 33 in the Vanarama Conference so far this season, but have been leaking them too.

Centre backs Ben Clark and James Curtis have experience and know each other inside out but the pair lack pace and can be got at in a team built to go forward.

Alex Rodman will be a threat on the wing with two goals and six assists to his name while former Everton man and Wales international John Oster makes them tick in midfield if allowed time and space.

Danny Wright has scored six times since his move from Forest Green Rovers and the ex-Wrexham forward will have to be kept under close watch.

Gateshead will again be without Chandler (virus) and JJ O’Donnell (foot) but forwards Shaw, James Brown and Carl Finnigan could all be back in contention with Tom Heardman, a 6ft 4ins targetman loaned from Newcastle United, hoping to earn his first start.