PROLIFC marksman Nathan Hodge will be making his much-anticipated competitive return for AFC Ludlow in Saturday’s showdown with table-topping Team Dudley.

Hot-shot Hodge will be joined by his brother Dale Hodge for the home match, which could ignite Ludlow’s promotion hopes in West Midlands League Division Two.

Manager Dave Cooper is not ruling out a return to action for former skipper Jamie Marsh, who shone hone in Ludlow’s 3-1 friendly win over Kington Town last Thursday.

Cooper has arranged a home friendly tonight (Thursday) against Wayne Whitbread’s Clee Hill United to sharpen his attackers for the league leaders’ visit.

“Team Dudley is a massive game for us – we want to play against the top sides,” said Cooper, whose men are sixth in the table.

“We have no yet played against Team Dudley or second-placed Wolverhampton Sporting. We have played against Penkridge but I don’t class them as a top side in this league.

“It’s a huge game – it will be Nathan first game back for us, while Luke Hicks and Dale Hodge are also back.

“Jamie Marsh makes such a difference for us. He has spoken about his retirement but I think that he used the wrong word. He’s had a few injuries and wants to take a bit of time out from the game.

“I want to field the best available 11 – and Jamie’s in that 11.”

Team Dudley sealed a 4-1 win against Worcester Raiders in the Division Two League Cup last weekend, while Ludlow had a bye into the second stage.

Cooper signed Nathan Hodge, from Haughmond, just after Christmas but he has been away on a skiing and snowboarding holiday.

Woofferton’s Danny Gower played for Ludlow, scoring twice for Cooper’s side and Martin Jusko also netted in a 3-1 friendly success over Kington.

“In the last 10 minutes, we scored two goals, their keeper made some good saves and Keanu Cooper rattled a post,” said Cooper.

“If we had fielded our first-team squad I think we would have steam rolled them.

“It was good to see Jake Pryce play 70 minutes, Rob Boyd was there and Rob Vass was back.

“Jamie Marsh had an excellent match.”

Meanwhile, the Showtime Stadium is hosting a Country and Western Night with Alan Williams this Saturday.

Doors will open at 8.30pm and entry is £3, including a light buffet.

A free mini bus available from Ludlow Co-op at 8.30pm. For details, call 01584 876000.