James Shannon returns to the Instonians side this weekend for the big Robinson Services Premier League game against CIYMS at Belmont.

And there is light at the end of the tunnel for the Shaw’s Bridge side who have had a nightmare start to the season with injuries, with Robert McKinley set to play his first game of the campaign, leaving only Test squad member Nathan Smith as a long-term absentee.

Nikolai Smith, despite sitting out yesterday’s inter-provincial, is also expected to play against CI.

Shannon missed both Instonians games last weekend with back spasms and handed over the captaincy of Northern Knights to club-mate Shane Getkate while he regained full fitness, but after playing a full part in this week’s inter-provincial he has suffered no reaction and will resume club cricket.

Indeed the Knights players are in the middle of 10 days cricket in an 11-day period with Saturday’s league action preceded by a round of Lagan Valley Steels T20 matches tonight and the Knights and Leinster Lightning locking horns again on Monday in a 50-over Cup match at The Hills.

Despite their injury woes, Instonians have won two of their first three league games — and share the leadership with defending champions Waringstown — but they are the only two teams to have played more than two matches.

CIYMS are one of five teams just one win behind the top two, so a win for any of those sides will keep them firmly in the mix at this early stage of the season.

Civil Service North, however, are more anxious than most to record a win as they are the only team to have lost their first two games, and will have to repeat their successful T20 chase when they return to The Lawn to face Waringstown.