FIRST Kieran Gill, now Liam Bent.
Having lost both on-loan lads when they were recalled by their full-time employers, Oldham’s fortunes took a turn for the better when Gill came back — and then Bent followed him.
The 19-year-old Salford tackling machine went back to the Red Devils two weeks ago, on a call-back clause, and was named in their 19-man squad which won 31-16 at Wigan Warriors on May 5.
Oldham have since completed a new loan deal for Bent, who’s back for a month at the very time when Roughyeds need all the troops they can muster for three crucial games against mid-table rivals Batley Bulldogs, Rochdale Hornets and Swinton Lions.
Said club chairman Chris Hamilton: “Like Castleford with Kieran Gill, Salford are happy with the progress Liam is making at Oldham. His stay with us is part of his development into a Super League player, but just as importantly he’s enjoying his rugby here, as Kieran is.
“We are delighted to have done the new deal with Salford and to know we have Liam’s services for the next month at least.”
Coach Scott Naylor lauded the return to the club of Gill and Bent and said: “It’s a good-news week. The more good players we have in the squad the stronger we are.
“And the positives don’t end there. Phil Joy did his first full training session last night (since dislocating his shoulder in February) and so long as he’s okay to do another session on Thursday, he’ll be available for selection at weekend.
“Scott Turner has to go back to see his neuro-surgeon again next week, after suffering concussion twice in the last 12 months, so he won’t be available for the Batley game. But everybody else will, including Phil Joy.”
Joy has missed 11 games — half the regular season — and he’s been out so long that to have him back will be almost like having a new addition to the squad.
Added upbeat Naylor: “We trained well last night after a week off. The boys did a lot of contact work and everyone came through it. They will go into the Batley game with fresh minds and bodies.
“I don’t know yet about dual-reg availability, but I’ve got good numbers to choose from anyway and that’s what I need and what I like.
“It’s fair and reasonable to say that our next three games are more winnable than London Broncos away (where Oldham were heavily beaten last time out). None of them is at home (Bower Fold), but when we turn up and we are all having a go, that’s when we win.
“That’s our challenge over the next three games — to be the best WE can be and then we’ll see where it takes us.”
Batley also had a fillip last night, ahead of Sunday’s game against Oldham at the Manchester Regional Athletics Centre in the Etihad Campus, when key half-back Dominic Brambani was cleared by an independent disciplinary panel of a grade B charge of intentionally standing on an opponent in the heavy defeat by Hull KR.