SEVERAL Oldham RL players will face late checks as the Roughyeds prepare for Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash with Whitehaven at the Recreation ground.
The Cumbrians have been in front for the past month but Oldham have crept up to within one point of them thanks to a run of six wins in their last seven league outings.
So its 1 v 2 at the Recreation Ground on Sunday (3pm) and both clubs go into the big game with injury concerns and fears that key men might not make it.
Last weekend Roughyeds beat bottom-of-the-table West Wales Raiders 56-6 without Kyran Johnson, Aaron Jones-Bishop, Ritchie Hawkyard, Ben Calland, Jack Spencer, Ben Davies, Liam Bent and Anthony Bowman.
The Cumbrians came off the back of two league defeats in a row to win 28-6 at London Skolars, also without senior men who had picked up knocks in the previous game against North Wales Crusaders.
‘Haven had so many injuries that head coach Gary Charlton opened initial inquiries about beefing up his squad with loan players.
They hadn’t arrived in time to play at London and nothing had been announced by mid-week this week, but that doesn’t mean reinforcements won’t have settled in by weekend.
In the Roughyeds camp, backs Johnson and Jones-Bishop won’t be ready in time.
The others might be, but the situation won’t be clear until Saturday morning.
Said head coach Scott Naylor:
“It’s fair to say I’ll have some issues ahead of this big game.
“And they don’t come much bigger, given that we’ll go top if we win and Whitehaven will stretch their lead if they win.”
Roughyeds have beaten the Cumbrians twice already this season, winning 36-12 at home in the league back in February and following up with a 48-12 triumph, again at the Vestacare, in the 1895 Cup on May 5.
Haven, however, have put all their eggs in one basket — winning automatic promotion by finishing first — and Roughyeds will have it all to do if they are to come back from Cumbria with a win under their belts for the second time in three weeks.
On the day injury-hit Haven were pipped at home by North Wales, Oldham conquered Workington five miles up the coast to get within one point of the league leaders.
That was tough; this one will be even tougher. But Naylor and his troops are confident they can do what’s needed and sneak into top spot with six games left.