Clay, Neal push Shield games

SENIOR players Adam Clay and Adam Neal are shining examples of the Oldham dressing room’s burning desire to beat the drop.

Currently in the Championship’s bottom two, Roughyeds have seven Shield games to come over the next two months.

Given that they’ve won only one of their last 12 and have lost injured players of the calibre of Scott Turner, Phil Joy, Richard Lepori, Gareth Owen and on-loan Kieran Gill for the rest of the year, it’s going to need a massive effort to turn things round.

The players are off this week, but when they return to training next Tuesday it will be all hands to the pump, including those of three new loan signings in Luke Hooley, from Wakefield Trinity, Jared Simpson (Huddersfield Giants) and Ben Morris (St Helens).

They are talented young players who are climbing the ladder and will be anxious to impress in their eight or nine weeks at Oldham.

Clay believes that with the other four loan lads already at the club — you can’t play them all in any one game — they will have a big say in keeping Oldham up.

Said the popular winger, who has played in all but one of Oldham’s 25 games this year: “I’ve been in this type of situation twice before in my career and got out of it both times.

“One thing I’ve learned is that we’ve got to believe we can do it. We’ve got to stick together as players and we’ve got to have the fans behind us too.

“Because of results and injuries it’s a tough time on and off the field just now. We’re a close group and we’re not doing ourselves justice. We know that. But we do believe we can turn the corner and that’s half the battle.

“As part-timers with jobs we’ve been training or playing three times a week since last November, so the break will do us good.

“By the next time we play we could have a couple of the injured lads back and we’ll also have the new boys here.

“The chairman said the Shield games would be a fresh start and that we would have to regard each one as a cup final. He’s exactly right. And with the backing of our supporters I’m sure we can do this.”

Oldham will have a squad of 25, a bigger roster than they had at the start of the campaign back in February, and that doesn’t include the eight under-19s from Huddersfield Giants, who have also been recruited on loan in case of emergency.

BACKS: Adam Clay, George Tyson, Scott Leatherbarrow, David Hewitt, Danny Grimshaw, Kameron Pearce-Paul, Steve Nield, Connor Williams, Luke Hooley, Jared Simpson.

FORWARDS: Adam Neal, Sammy Gee, Jack Spencer, Danny Langtree, Liam Thompson, Luke Adamson, Liam Bent, Ben Davies, Joe Burke, Kenny Hughes, Craig Briscoe, Michael Ward, Sadiq Adebiyi, Matty Wilkinson, Ben Morris.

Gee, Adamson and Morris could play in the backs if required.

Neal, who suffered a broken jaw in the Toulouse game three weeks ago, has not given up on the prospect of returning to action and doing his bit during the later rounds of the Shield. That also applies to Craig Briscoe.

Said Neal: “I’m just about getting back on solids and I see the specialist again this week. We’ve nearly two months of rugby left yet, so I’m hopeful.

“I would like nothing better than to get back and take part in the fight to avoid the drop.”

In the Shield, Roughyeds play Dewsbury Rams, Toulouse Olympique and Bradford Bulls at Bower Fold and Swinton Lions, Rochdale Hornets, Sheffield Eagles and Batley Bulldogs away, dates to be announced at 8am tomorrow by the RFL.

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