Burke, Ward back in frame

PROPS Michael Ward and Joe Burke, with 12 tries between them, will be in line to return to Oldham’s injury-hit squad for Sunday’s Bower Fold clash with high-flying Featherstone Rovers.

They were given well-earned rests last week as part of Scott Naylor’s squad-management strategy, but with Adam Neal out with a broken jaw and Sammy Gee working off a one-match ban, the Roughyeds’ boss will have to make changes to the side that performed heroics in beating Toulouse Olympique 14-12.

Not one of the nine senior players currently on the injured list is ready to return, but there might be a debut for 18-year-old utility back Connor Williams, who has arrived from Salford Red Devils on a month’s loan.

The dual-registration facility, which allows Naylor the use of players from Huddersfield Giants, will again come into play, but Naylor never reveals his dual-reg hand until later.

There will, however, be much rejoicing among Roughyeds fans if he is again able to use 19-year-old Sam Wood at stand-off and the more experienced Dan Smith at prop.

Both played well in a stirring performance last Sunday to earn the two points that took Roughyeds out of the bottom two and above Swinton Lions.

Naylor has four young players on loan — Kameron Pearce-Paul, Sadiq Adebiyi, Liam Bent and Connor Williams — but if he plays them all he will only be allowed one dual-reg man, making up to five the maximum numb er of ‘imports’ allowed in any one game.

Williams was odd man out last week, but it remains to be seen how Naylor will shuffle his cards this time as Roughyeds go for back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

Management will be hoping for more of the same — namely, a spirited, backs-to-the-wall show from all 17 in the Oldham jersey on the pitch and a mighty effort off the pitch from Naylor’s ‘loud and proud’ bunch of vocal supporters.

Said the Oldham boss: “Featherstone are chasing a top-four spot, but so were Toulouse last week. We were unlucky to go down 8-6 at their place in February and although we lost 30-4 there in the Challenge Cup there wasn’t a lot between us in the first half.

“We like playing at Stalybridge and our aim will be to play again with the same completion rate and strong defence and then see what happens.”

OLDHAM (from): Nield, Clay, Tyson, Pearce-Paul, Hewitt, Hughes, Thompson, Langtree, Adamson, Wilkinson, Adebiyi, Bent, Davies, Burke, Ward, Williams, plus dual-reg players.

Feathertone have topped-up their squad for the run-in by signing forwards Jamie Cording and Daniel Igbinedion and they will come with a heavy and powerful middle unit featuring props Andy Bostock, Darrell Griffin, Jordan Baldwinson and Jack Ormondroyd.

ROVERS: (from): Hardman, Taulapapa, Ulugia, Hardcastle, Turner, Thackeray, Wildie, Bostock, Carlile, Griffin, Walton, Davies, Walters, Lockwood, Moore, Baldwinson, Ormondroyd, Cording, Igbinedion.

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