OLDHAM’S ten new signings — four forwards, six backs — will all get a run in tonight’s Law Cup clash with Rochdale Hornets at the Crown Oil Arena (7.45).
Rival coaches Scott Naylor and Alan Kilshaw have agreed to use no more than 20 players.
Gareth Owen and Phil Joy, both engaged in rehab after operations, will not be in the Roughyeds’ party, which may be stretched to 20 by the inclusion of an unnamed non-contract back who has been training with the club.
The ten new boys are forwards Danny Bridge, Adam Jones, Luke Nelmes and Liam Bent; full-back Kyran Johnson; stand-off Paul Crook; and outside backs Dave Eccleston, Jack Holmes, Danny Rasool and Matt Reid.
OLDHAM (from): Bent, Bridge, Briscoe, Crook, Davies, Eccleston, Hewitt, Holmes, Hughes, Johnson, Jones, Langtree, Neal, Nelmes, Nield, Rasool, Reid, Spencer, Wilkinson, A N Other.
It will be a big night for former Hornets trio Bridge, Crook and Holmes but no more so than it will for the unlucky Craig Briscoe, who has had two injury-ruined seasons at Oldham and is on the threshold of a new beginning after major surgery to rebuild a knee.
Hornets, who hold the Law Cup, have asked their players to take a pay cut because of financial difficulties, but have told supporters that “the club stands on the brink of a great season with a team hungry for success and determined to overcome this temporary setback.”
Looking ahead to Oldham’s League 1 campaign, head coach Naylor said: “We don’t start until February 18, but Rochdale kick-off on February 4. Those two weeks make a big difference in terms of where you are up to in your preparation.
“The Law Cup game has come too early for us really, but it’s a great concept and I firmly believe it needs to be played every year.
“I would have preferred to play it later in the month, but it is what it is and we get on with it. It’s the first of our three pre-season games and, like all first games with lots of new players out there together for the first time, you know a lot more after the opening ten to 15 minutes.
“Early on in the game I expect a bit of confusion and rustiness, but one helluva lot of enthusiasm because a few of the players have points to prove.
“These games are always intense affairs with bragging rights at stake and they very rarely disappoint.”
Hornets also have 11 players on debut, including three former Roughyeds in Richard Lepori, Luke Adamson and Dave Allen, who will be returning to the game after a year out.
In total there are five ex-Oldham men in the squad; the above three plus Lewis Palfrey and Gary Middlehurst.
The other new boys are Toby Adamson, Earl Hurst, Callum Mulkeen, Alex Gaskell, Aiden Hema, Billy Brickhill, Blake Turner and Dec Gregory.
HORNETS: Lepori; Kay, Mulkeen, Hurst, Gaskell; Palfrey, Yates; Taira, Moores, Mitchell, Allen, Middlehurst, L Adamson; replacements, Maneely, Hatton, Hema, T Adamson, Brickhill, Turner, Gregory, Hadden.
Both clubs are urging as many fans as possible to back their respective teams and thus provide a great atmosphere at what is sure to be a a hotly-contested and intense derby battle.