FOUR and a half months since damaging a knee in a pre-season friendly at Barrow, Oldham new boy Craig Briscoe has finally been cleared to play.
“He’s available now”, confirmed coach Scott Naylor after last night’s training session in which Leigh’s young hooker Lewis Foster, who was signed on loan earlier in the day, ran with his new team mates for the first time.
Like Foster, utility back Jonny Pownall also signed on loan from Leigh in time to satisfy time-scale rules for playing this weekend, but he won’t be making his debut at Dewsbury on Sunday (3pm) because he’s off sick and didn’t train.
Said Naylor: “Foster trained and is in the mix, but Pownall won’t be because he didn’t train with us last night and he hasn’t trained at Leigh all week because he’s under the weather. As soon as he’s right, he’ll be with us.”
Danny Grimshaw has proved his fitness after groin trouble, but Will Hope (ankle) is still out and Jack Spencer has suffered a setback in training.
He has been out since the Featherstone game on May 1 with a broken hand, but he is now getting over a severe blow to the shoulder , which happened when the prop was training flat out on Tuesday in the hope of making his comeback at Dewsbury.
He could be okay for Bradford’s visit to Bower Fold next Wednesday (8pm), but he won’t be risked before then.
Nor will Richard Lepori, who has had an injection in his shoulder to see if that will ease the pain.
Dual-reg players will again be available — used so far are Liam Johnson (10 times), Tyler Dickinson (6), Kruise Leeming (3), Jared Simpson (3) and Sam Wood (1).
Wood, who scored a try on his Oldham debut at Batley, is an 18-year-old centre from Dewsbury Celtic.
Looking ahead to the Dewsbury game, Naylor said: “Their win at Bradford will have given them confidence and they’ll be fired up for us because we beat them easily at Bower Fold.
“I don’t think there’s much between us. They’ve some big lads and they play on a small pitch so we’ll have to man up, which I thought we did well for long periods at Batley.
“If we can add to our Batley performance a little bit more class and intelligence I think we’ll have a good chance of winning this one,”
Naylor will pick from these:
Langtree, Palfrey, Briscoe, Clay, Grimshaw, Joy, Owen, Ward, Files, Gee, Holmes, Roper, Thompson, Hughes, Middlehurst, Burke, Tom Spencer, Foster plus dual-reg personnel.