OLDHAM RL boss Scott Naylor will face a selection dilemma when he picks his 17 to face Coventry Bears at the Vestacare Stadium on Sunday (3pm) in the Roughyeds’ first Betfred League 1 action for three weeks.
Their last league game was a 72-8 win at West Wales Raiders in Llanelli on April 27 and since then they’ve beaten Whitehaven 48-12 at home in the new 1895 Cup and have seen their casualty list reduced from three to one.
After training on Tuesday night Naylor reported a clean bill of health except for Jamaican international winger Aaron Jones-Bishop, who has what is feared to be a serious knee injury.
Half-back Adam Brook and play-anywhere Anthony Bowman, both of whom have been out with wrist and rib injuries respectively, will be available for selection.
And that’s why the Roughyeds’ boss faces a selection teaser.
Does he go with the side that, in scoring 14 tries in Wales and another eight against the Cumbrians, pleased him no end or will he be tempted to utilise his full squad and consider the claims, among others, of naturally-gifted players like Brook and Bowman?
Others who didn’t play in the cup-tie last time out were Ben Calland, Ben Davies and Jamie Greenwood.
Whichever path Naylor chooses to tread, he will stress to his players the importance of giving Coventry the utmost respect.
Though placed eighth in the 11-club competition they’ve won three of their seven games and are on the same number of points as Doncaster, who currently occupy the final play-off spot.
Said Naylor: “They’ll be full of bounce and energy after beating Workington Town last week and we’ll have to be on our game.”
Doncaster, meanwhile, have caused a stir by signing one of the sport’s big names, Rangi Chase, on a short-term deal to the end of the season.
The classy half-back, New Zealand-born but an England international, can’t play until July 14 when he will have cleared a two-year drugs ban.
As a Castleford Tigers star he won Super League’s Man of Steel award in 2011.
Oldham have to play Doncaster three times in an 1895 Cup second-round tie and two league games and maybe a fourth time in the play-offs, but the cup-tie and the league game at the Keepmoat Stadium will be before Chase is eligible for selection.
The Dons come here on Sunday, August 18 when the former Wests Tigers and St George Illawarra man (Australia) will be expected to significantly increase the workload of the Vestacare Stadium’s turnstile operators.
Said Chase, whose capture by the South Yorkshire club represents a promotion gamble:
“I’ve been out a while but I’m working hard on my fitness and looking forward to giving the lads a lift at the business end of the season.”