OLDHAM have named a 17-man squad for Saturday night’s friendly against a very talented St Helens side that will be led around the field by reserve-team player-coach Paul Crook, who was so instrumental in helping Roughyeds to win promotion from Betfred League 1 to the Betfred Championship last season.
Matt Diskin is still hoping to give a debut to 19-year-old former Waterhead youngster Matthew Fletcher, but Roughyeds are still waiting for his international clearance to arrive from Australia and it will all hinge on whether it comes in time.
If it does, Fletcher will play; if not, Diskin will go with the following 17:
Harry Aaronson, Dan Abram, Liam Bent, Danny Bridge, Adam Brook, Lewis Charnock, David Hewitt, Daniel Igbinedion, Kyran Johnson, Phil Joy, Declan Kay, Danny Langtree, Gareth Owen, Jack Spencer, Ed Smith, Matty Wilkinson, James Worthington.
Out injured are Jode Sheriffe, Cameron Leeming, Ben Davies and John Hutchings.
Davies and Sheriffe will be out for several weeks, Davies because he is waiting for injections to clear up a sciatic nerve problem and Sheriffe because he needs an operation on a knee after a training accident.
He clashed knees with a team mate and twisted his knee when falling and planting his foot.
Hutchings tweaked a hamstring at Rochdale, but the news on centre Leeming is much better.
“He’s progressing well and is now back doing full sprinting. If we had a game next week he would be ready to go, but he will certainly be right for the first league game.”
Of the Saints game, he said: “It will be a good opportunity for us to put into practice what we have been doing in training.
“Although things didn’t go right for us at Rochdale there were times in the game when we showed glimpses of what we are trying to do.
“Saints will throw something different at us. They’ll be young, fit, fast and talented so they’ll be coming at us in a different way and we’re looking forward to it.”
The Saints squad is a mix of first-team squad members, reserve-team players and Academy products.
Youngsters Nico Rizzelli, Tom Nisbett and exciting half-back Lewis Dodd are named as is 2019 Academy player of the year Sam Royle.
In total there are eight members of the first-team squad included — Matthew Costello, Joe Batchelor, Joss Eaves, Callum Hazzard, Josh Simm, Lewis Dodd, Nico Rizzelli and Tom Nisbett.
Costello, a 21-year-old centre from Orrell St James, made 11 first-team appearances last season.
Batchelor was signed from York City Knights and went out last season on dual reg to York and Leigh Centurions.
Hazzard (21), a loose-forward, spent last season on loan at North Wales Crusaders.
Simm is an 18-year-old half-back — grandson of Saints legend Geoff Pimblett — who last year scored 30 tries in 20 Academy matches.
Dodd (17) is an England Academy scrum-half from Halton Hornets.
Rizelli, from Rochdale Mayfield, has been elevated to the first-team squad after only one season in the under-19s. A centre, he is said to have a great future ahead of him.
Nisbett (20), full-back or wing, has played for both Lancashire and England academies.
This young team will be under the care and control of Paul Crook, whose career has turned full circle and has taken him back to the club where it all began those many years ago.
Admission to the game is £10 adults and £2 for under-16s.