OLDHAM RL Club’s medical staff will be checking on several players before Matt Diskin names his squad for Friday’s opening Betfred Championship game against Swinton Lions at Bower Fold, kick-off 5.15pm.
Given that club captain and first-choice hooker Gareth Owen had to do a full 80 minutes when Roughyeds lost 23-14 at Heywood Road last Sunday in the second round of the Betfred Challenge Cup, all Oldham fingers will be crossed in the hope that Declan Gregory comes through in time.
Having suffered concussion for the second time in a year during the first- round win against Barrow Raiders, Gregory was ruled out of the Heywood Road cup clash and, in following RFL concussion protocols, had to be cleared by a neuro surgeon before he could play again.
With Gregory and Matty Wilkinson (broken leg) on the casualty list, Owen had to go it alone in the cup-tie — and rarely these days do hookers in any team stay on the field for the entire game.
Head coach Diskiin called up young half-back Callum Green on the bench and his pre-match plan was to replace Owen at the appropriate time, switch stand-off Lewis Charnock to hooker and pair up Green with James Barran at half-back.
The best laid plans of mice and men . . .
After half an hour Barran was forced to quit with a groin injury so Owen had to soldier on.
By comparison, the Lions played THREE hookers in Luke Waterworth and two subs, Billy Brickhill and Paul Nash. All three were used, while Owen battled on solo.
Nobody at Oldham will want to see that scenario repeated so Roughyeds have fingers crossed that Gregory comes through successfully when he has his examination with the specialist.
If he’s cleared, everything will then hinge on whether the specialist’s written report arrives in time.
Barran will also be in for treatment when the squad meets up for training, as will powerful, young forward Tyler Dupree, who quit on Sunday with a recurrence of ankle trouble.
Swinton, who have been handed a home game against Warrington Wolves in the third round of the Challenge Cup, are also through to the semi-final of the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup, along with York City Knights, Widnes Vikings and Featherstone Rovers.
Their visit to Bower Fold on Sunday for this behind-closed-doors Championship opener will be their last game before their Warrington cup-tie.
Like Oldham, their squad for Friday will depend on fitness tests, including those on prop Sam Brooks, full-back Geronimo Doyle and tough forward Paddy Jones, all of whom missed Sunday’s cup-tie.
The game will be screened live on Our League, free for Oldham season ticket holders; £4.95 for everyone else if bought before midnight on Thursday; and £10 if bought on Friday.
If you intend to watch no better time than to do it NOW and do it HERE.