Josh Ward-Hibbert will be back to bolster the Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles backcourt this weekend as the men in black make one final push for a top four sport.

Seven defeats in 10 games have killed the franchise’s mid-season momentum at a critical stage of the campaign.

Eagles Men were defeated 90-77 last time out against Surrey Scorchers. (Photos: Surrey Scorchers)

But the return of influential British Basketball League veteran Ward-Hibbert is a huge boost ahead of two games inside 24 hours.

Newcastle host Championship runners-up Cheshire Phoenix on Friday before a trip to Manchester the following day.

And head coach Marc Steutel confirmed: “Josh will be available for this week.

“I’d expect him to play a full part in the playoffs if he continues to improve the way he has done in the last week.

“It was a game time decision at Surrey on Saturday.

“He was close but we didn’t want to put any extra pressure and load on him with the schedule we’ve got coming up.

“So whilst we missed him— and we missed his defensive intent — last weekend, it was the right decision and we’re looking forward to getting him back in for the Phoenix game.”

Whether or not experienced former London and Leicester man Ward-Hibbert would have tipped the balance against Bristol and Surrey is unknown.

But the Eagles lacked a degree of composure and clear thinking towards the end of both losses — qualities the Great Britain star always brings to the table.

Josh Ward-Hibbert has missed the last two games with an injury but will be back against Cheshire Phoenix on Friday. (Photos: London Lions)

For Steutel it’s a case of his talented roster rebooting and replicating February’s red hot form.

“We have to rediscover the joy in our play and the joy in valuing possessions and what good possessions mean,” added Newcastle’s playcaller.

“As a team, we’ve experienced pretty much everything this year so I’ll be encouraging my guys to reflect on that.

“They need to think about the times that we’ve come through adversity and the times when we haven’t — that experience can be invaluable heading into the playoffs.”

Newcastle are locked in a tense three-way battle for fourth place with fierce rivals Sheffield and Leicester.

But last weekend’s double defeat handed the Sharks and the Riders a significant advantage heading into the final 48 hours of the regular season.

Newcastle slipped to sixth with two games to play and both Sheffield and Leicester hold the head-to-head advantage against the Eagles this season.

Riders are in pole position in the race for fourth as Rob Paternostro’s men wrap up their league season against bottom two Manchester and Plymouth.

Eagles Men will be looking for revenge after losing 96-85 to Cheshire Phoenix in February. (Photos: Cheshire Phoenix)

And right now Newcastle are looking at a three-game playoff quarter-final series against Caledonia Gladiators.

“We’ve beaten every team in the league this season so the playoffs don’t hold any fear for us,” added Steutel.

“But we need to find some momentum heading into the post-season and we need everybody — players and fans — to be united when Cheshire are in town this weekend.

“We understand where we are and we understand that the last couple of weeks has been a really tough period for everyone involved with the club.

“We’re just trying to reset and refocus and realign ourselves to what it takes to be able to be the best version of ourselves in the playoffs.

“We absolutely need the support of the best fans in the British Basketball League and we need them to stay with us right now.

“The Vertu Motors Arena needs to be a fortress on Friday and again when we host playoff basketball later this month.”

Tickets for Friday’s home game against Cheshire Phoenix can be found at the Box Office.