SCOTT Naylor flies back into Manchester today after a mid-season break, knowing that he and his medical team will have big decisions to make in the countdown to Sunday’s second relegation battle in 14 days with Workington Town.
Jack Spencer, Adam Clay, Richard Lepori and new-boy Scott Turner. all fighting back after injury. will be assessed tonight when the squad returns to action after being given a week off to recharge batteries.
Naylor must also consider the claims of players who weren’t picked for the last game, in which Workington snatched a Bower Fold thriller 32-30.
Joe Burke, Adam Files, Sammy Gee, Craig Briscoe and club captain Lewis Palfrey, last year’s League One player of the year, all missed out.
Centre James Mendeika, signed on loan from Bradford Bulls literally seconds before the deadline door slammed shut, starts training with Roughyeds this week, but he’s unlikely to get the nod until he can show he is match fit, not having played much in the last few months.
Then there’s Michael Ward. Charged with a grade C ‘use of elbow’ offence in the last game, his case goes before a disciplinary hearing tonight. He has the option of submitting an early guilty plea, which would carry a two-match ban.
The loss of prop-forward Ward for the first two Shield games would be a serious blow for the club, given that he is the only player to have turned out in all 26 cup and league games this year. His eight tries put him second to winger Jamel Chisholm, who has nine, in the club’s list of try scorers.
Prop Spencer (shoulder) is said to have a good chance of being cleared, as is new signing Turner, from North Wales Crusaders who damaged an eye socket against London Skolars several weeks ago.
Turner (22), who scored 14 tries in 13 games for Crusaders earlier this season, would be an obvious replacement for Clay, who will be doubtful because of the shoulder injury he sustained when tackled heavily by Jarrod Sammut in the last game against Workington.
Lepori had stitches in a deep gash in his hand and missed all the second half.
Said assistant boss Lee Spencer: “He has the stitches out on Wednesday. We will look at protecting the damaged area and strapping it and with a bit of luck he should be okay.
“We will be making decisions on a few players later in the week, but Spencer and Turner are in with a good chance.”
By popular demand, Oldham Roughyeds Supporters’ Association (ORSA) are again putting on a pre-match buffet and hospitality function at the home game against Sheffield Eagles on Bank Holiday Monday, August 29. Price is £25, including main-stand seat if required or £10 for season-ticket holders.
Book at the Workington game this Sunday or ring Paul Hulbert on 07534329674.