OLDHAM and Craig Briscoe have remained loyal to each other during the player’s two-year battle to overcome a serious knee injury which both parties hope is now a thing of the past.
Having played only seven competitive games for Roughyeds since he joined the club from Barrow ahead of the 2016 Kingstone Press Championship campaign, the former Leigh Centurions back-row forward has signed a new one-year deal in anticipation of repaying the club’s confidence in him.
He is now well on the road to a full recovery after a major reconstruction of his right knee at Wrightington Hospital, Wigan last January.
Typical of the cruel luck that blighted Roughyeds’ two-year stay in the Championship, Briscoe was signed to stiffen the pack for the higher division only to rupture the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee the first time he donned Oldham colours in a warm-up game at Barrow, his former club.
He was out until the back end of that season but in his seventh appearance — a Championship Shield game against Workington at Bower Fold — he suffered a recurrence and he hasn’t played since.
“The plan initially was to squeeze in a game or two at the end of last season, but I didn’t get my operation as soon as I expected so that changed things,” said Briscoe.
“Also, it would have been hard for Scott (coach Naylor) to throw me in because we were battling against relegation.
“In the long run it might prove the best thing though because I’ve had more time to strengthen the knee and I’ve got a full pre-season to look forward to.
“I’ll have to take things a bit cautiously in the first two or three weeks, but I’m confident that everything will be okay.
“It was tough watching last season. We had a really good side, but all the injuries hit us hard and we lost a few games by narrow margins.
“We seem to be keeping a nucleus of the lads and I see no reason why we can’t perform well in League 1 and, hopefully, get straight back up.”
Naylor said of Briscoe: “We are all keen to see Craig back on the field and free from injury.
“I was really keen to sign him when we were building up for our first season in the Championship and I’m looking forward to seeing a fully-fit Craig Briscoe back in action in Oldham colours.
“He’s worked hard during the long months of rehab and he has been very patient. I’m eagerly awaiting next season so I can watch the player I was so keen to sign in the first place.”
Rochdale have announced the signing of former Oldham full-back Richard Lepori, who was named this week in Italy’s World Cup squad.
Like Michael Ward, who has gone to Batley, ‘Lippy’ leaves Roughyeds with the club’s thanks and best wishes for the future.