TOM Ashton, out for 14 weeks after major surgery, might be a wildcard selection when Scott Naylor names his Oldham line-up for Sunday’s televised Summer Bash showdown with Swinton Lions at Blackpool.
The strong-running former Sheffield Eagles centre scored two tries in the first three games of the season against London Broncos, Leigh Centurions and Dewsbury Rams.
By the time Roughyeds were next in action at Featherstone he was undergoing an emergency operation in Salford Royal for the removal of a burst appendix.
Nearly three months on, and clearly lacking general fitness after so long out, he played for the last 15 minutes on the wing against Warrington Wolves in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup when Naylor was down to his last 17 players.
Three weeks will have elapsed since then by the time Oldham walk out on to the big stage at Bloomfield Road (3pm kick-off) for an important KP Championship derby clash with the Lions which will be shown live on Sky Sports.
Ashton has used the time well to work on conditioning and after last night’s training session Naylor confirmed that he might be ready to be included in the selection mix for the big game.
“He’s been in full training for a week or two. We’ll see how he is later, but if all goes well he could by available for selection by the end of the week,” said the Oldham boss.
He left out five regulars at Halifax last Friday night — Lewis Palfrey, Steve Roper, Kenny Hughes, Will Hope and Jack Holmes, all of whom will be hoping to break back into the squad for the Roughyeds’ first experience of Summer Bash.
Swinton were there last year when they were beaten by North Wales Crusaders in the final of League One’s iProSport Cup.
Ashton isn’t the only Oldham player whom Naylor and the medical staff will be assessing again tomorrow night or maybe even waiting until Saturday.
Danny Grimshaw (groin), Jamel Chisholm (hand) and Liam Thompson (foot) didn’t train last night after picking up knocks at Halifax in a hard-fought 12-6 defeat.
Added Naylor: “We’ve one or two queries again, but we just get on with it. We’ll see how things are on Thursday and take it from there.”
None of the other injury victims — Richard Lepori (shoulder), Craig Briscoe (knee), Jack Spencer (hand) and Jon Ford (knee) — will be ready in time.
Briscoe, still to play a competitive game for the club after being injured at Barrow in pre-season, has suffered a setback. He was cleared by his specialist for full contact training, but as soon as he tried he was in a lot of pain.
He may be required to go back to the specialist for further consultations.
Summer Bash tickets are available from Whitebank up to 3pm today; from 9.30am to 1.30pm tomorrow; and from 9.30am to 4pm on Friday.