SCOTT Naylor will make changes in his Oldham side to face Hemel Stags at the Vestacare Stadium on Sunday (3pm).
He’ll have to replace Kieran Gill and Lee Kershaw, whose loan deals are over, but his explanation for bringing in new faces seemed to indicate that changes won’t end at two.
“Of the side that beat Newcastle last time out there are no injuries and nobody will be dropped. It’s not a question of that. It’s about an entire squad of players. I need to use them.”
Ben Davies, who has still to play this season because of a back problem, and Adam Neal, going through the RFL’s protocol procedure after suffering concussion against Keighley on April 15, are still unavailable.
Dual-reg assistance will be on offer from Salford Red Devils and Naylor will also have 21 of his own players at his disposal plus Wakefield Trinity’s 19-year-old full-back Luke Hooley, who is now on a week-to-week loan agreement.
He will pick from the 17 who beat Newcastle Thunder, minus Gill and Kershaw, plus Kenny Hughes, Kyran Johnson, Steven Nield, Jack Holmes, Danny Rasool, Zack McComb, Ben West and maybe dual-reg personnel.
OLDHAM (from): Bent, Bridge, Briscoe, Crook, Eccleston, Hewitt, Holmes, Hooley, Hughes, Johnson, Jones, Joy, Langtree, McComb, Nelmes, Nield, Owen, Rasool, Reid, Spencer, West, Wilkinson plus dual-reg.
Hemel are joint bottom with West Wales Raiders, having lost 13 games in a row going back to August last year.
In their eight Betfred League 1 outings this season they’ve conceded 338 points at an average of 42 a game.
By comparison, Roughyeds have conceded 120, working out at 15 a game.
Points difference could be crucial in determining final league placings, but Naylor dismisses suggestions that his players will see this game and their next one at West Wales Raiders as an opportunity to significantly improve their for-and-against stats.
“With one exception we’ve always found Hemel to be difficult opponents. We’ll be expected to win, but we will still have to do a job on them.
“The problem with all this talk of going for big scores is that it can get into the heads of players so that they come up with a performance that isn’t good enough.
“We’ll be looking to carry on with the form we showed against Workington and Newcastle. It’s no good playing well against teams like that and then producing a below-par performance against Hemel.
“The focus is on doing things right and doing them well and if we do that the scoreboard will take care of itself.”
The sides have met six times during Naylor’s years in charge of Roughyeds, who have won four, drawn one and lost one.
They struggled against the Stags in 2014 when they met three times with honours even. Naylor’s men lost 44-32 at Hemel and the two games at what was then Whitebank ended in a 20-20 draw and a 38-10 win for Roughyeds.
They met only once in Oldham’s promotion season of 2015 and that resulted in a 70-6 win for Roughyeds at Hemel.
Neal will be sidelined for at least another two or three weeks because he isn’t allowed to play until he has had another check-up by his specialist.
Fellow front-row man Davies did half a session of training last night for the first time in about 12 weeks.
“It’s a long job for Ben, but it was a break-through for him last night and it’s now a case of seeing how well he progresses in advancing to the stage where he can do a full session with the squad,” said Naylor.