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Knights facing uphill task in bid to leave 2015 misery behind

By Ian Callender

It's getting no easier for the Northern Knights as they resume their inter-provincial campaign today with the opening Championship game against Leinster Lightning (Clontarf, 11am).

Beaten comfortably with Civil Service North professional Mansoor Amjad in their line-up in the one-day Cup, they are without any overseas help over the next three days, with all the professionals tied up to coaching duties at their clubs.

They have been able to select captain James Shannon, available again after his one-match suspension, while Waringstown's James McCollum is also free of university studies to open the batting.

There are two other changes from last week with Instonians opening bowler Stephen Bunting and CSN all-rounder Shane Getkate called into the squad while Jacob Mulder, the North Down leg spinner, can expect to be promoted from 12th man for the longer format.

The Knights are keen to improve on their miserable record of last year when they won only two of their 12 games across all three competitions - both in the 50-over Cup against the North West Warriors.

But it was a record of five defeats and a draw against Lightning, who boast by far the strongest panel in the country and this week are still fielding seven senior internationals despite the unavailability of Kevin O'Brien, Tyrone Kane and Fintan McAllister plus the retirement of last year's treble-winning captain John Mooney.

Into the side comes young North County wicket-keeper Jamie Grassi for his debut plus a return to representative action for Ireland pace bowler Peter Chase, who missed almost all of last season because of injury.

Chase has rare pace and will be keen to impress the Irish selectors as he attempts to add to his three caps, the last of which was in Dubai in January 2015, a game which was abandoned without a ball bowled.

Graeme McCarter, now of CSN, is fighting for the same place - his previous Ireland appearance was last June - so it promises to be a fascinating duel.

Lightning: J Anderson (capt), Yaqoob Ali, J Carroll, P Chase, G Dockrell, J Grassi, D Joyce, A Poynter, E Richardson, S Singh, M Sorensen, J Tector

Knights: J Shannon (capt), S Bunting, C Dougherty, P Eaglestone, S Getkate, J Holmes, G McCarter, J McCollum, J Mulder, L Nelson, N Smith, G Thompson.

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