HAVING beaten Barrow Raiders and Rochdale Hornets in pre-season outings, Oldham will be out to claim their third Championship scalp when they take on Swinton Lions at Heywood Road, Sale on Sunday (3pm kick-off).
Admission prices for this shared-gate ‘friendly’ are £14 adults, £10 concessions and £3 juniors, which includes an optional main-stand transfer for those who like to sit under cover and enjoy an elevated view.
While Roughyeds were winning 24-10 at Barrow and 24-8 to retain the Law Cup, Lions were going down 52-6 at Salford Red Devils and beating North Wales Crusaders 26-0 at home.
Like Scott Naylor’s squad, the Lions will feature several new signings, including forwards Gavin Bennion, Jose Kenga, Adam Jones and Lewis Hatton and backs Oscar Thomas, Dale Williams and Mike Ratu.
Ex-Rochdale pair Bennion and Hatton will take some handling in the forwards while Adam Jones can be expected to go flat out against his former team mates from the Vestacare Stadium.
On the flip side, what better game for Oldham new boy Richie Hawkyard to continue his eye-catching form than this one against the club to which he devoted ten years of sterling service before his move to Keighley ?
Roughyeds hope to have on-loan winger Lee Kershaw available for the first time this pre-season and maybe the club’s latest addition in 24-year-old half-back Adam Brook, who has joined the club this week on a season-long loan from Halifax.
Danny Grimshaw might also be given his first run-out after a hamstring injury but there will be nothing definitive until the squad is announced on Saturday.
Scott Naylor, meanwhile, has said he hopes his side will live up to their billing as favourites to win League 1 and thus gain promotion to the Championship.
“I think we’ll have a better chance than we did last year when we lacked a little bit of experience to kill the game when we were in front late on with a few points to spare.
“We have a lot more experience this year, especially in the backs.
“League 1 is going to be a good competition with more teams pushing for the play-offs. The division is getting tougher year on year.
“There are a lot of quality players in League 1, as we discovered when we returned to it after a couple of seasons in the Championship.
“Maybe we didn’t realise in 2018 how much stronger the league was than when we left it in 2015.
“I don’t think we’ll get caught out this year like we did last year.
“We’ve got a few tough games at the start, but we should be well prepared thanks to a pre-season programme consisting of three Championship sides and then Newcastle, who are tipped to be among the strongest sides in our division.”