TOM Ashton, the Oldham RL centre, will be out of Scott Naylor’s plans for several weeks after being taken ill last weekend.
He was rushed into Salford Royal Hospital on Sunday morning with severe appendicitis and had an emergency operation the same day.
Still there, and speaking from his hospital bed, he said: “I’m feeling a little bit better now, but I’ve been really bad.
“It was a serious operation because the appendix had burst and there were other complications as well.
“I don’t know how long I’m going to be here. Once I’m out, I’ll just have to take things one step at a time.”
Club officials, coaching staff and team mates are more concerned about Ashton’s immediate welfare than his prospects for returning to training, but he will certainly be unavailable for the foreseeable future.
A former Sheffield Eagles player, 23-year-old Ashton played in each of promoted Oldham’s first three games in the KP Championship, scoring the first of his side’s three tries at Leigh and then opening the scoring with the first of the Roughyeds’ seven tries in a 38-16 win against Dewsbury at Bower Fold.
His illness is the club’s second major setback with a vitally important season still in its infancy.
Back-row forward Craig Briscoe, one of four new players signed to bolster Scott Naylor’s squad for the step up to the Championship, ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in a pre-season game at Barrow.
He is waiting for surgery and is not expected to play again this year.
Roughyeds moved quickly to snap up former Rochdale and North Wales Crusaders forward Gary Middlehurst as a replacement, but he hasn’t done a pre-season training programme so he will need a week or two to get fit before he can play.
Adam Files, who had an ankle injury, trained normally on Tuesday and will be assessed tonight to see if there has been adverse reaction. If not, he will train again and, barring further setbacks, will be available for selection on Sunday.
Oldham’s fifth Championship game pairs them with Super League aspirants Bradford Bulls at Bower Fold, Stalybridge (3pm), to be refereed by Oldham-born Robert Hicks.
Bradford fans who wish to sit will be accommodated in the stand on the far side of the ground which wasn’t opened for the visits of London Broncos and Dewsbury Rams.
Given that the unbeaten Championship leaders are expected to have a big following, Roughyeds are hoping for their best attendance for a long time.