JAMES Barran, the new, young half-back who has played in each of Oldham’s four games so far this season — two friendlies and two Betfred Challenge Cup ties — is ruled out of the opening Championship game against Swinton Lions at Bower Fold on Friday (5.15pm kick-off).
He damaged a groin in last Sunday’s second round Challenge Cup tie against the Lions at Heywood Road and was forced out of the game after half an hour.
“Groin strains can take their time. He could be out for two or three weeks,”
said head coach Matt Diskin.
David Hewitt, first-choice half-back for the past three years, took a knock at Featherstone in the first friendly, but returns to the squad this week and is said to be “back in contention.”
On the face of it, the big decision for Diskin will be what to do with his halves with Lewis Charnock, Hewitt and young speed merchant Callum Green, who got a chance off the bench when Barran went off last week, all in the running.
Added the Roughyeds boss:
“Dave (Hewitt) could have been available at a pinch last week, but he needed a bit more training.”
Good news for Diskin is that hooker Declan Gregory, who had concussion, has been cleared by a neurosurgeon.
He’s come through all the RFL protocols regarding head injuries and returns to the squad, which almost certainly means club captain Gareth Owen won’t be required to do the full game at hooker, as he did in the cup-tie against the same opponents.
Also back in the provisional 21-man squad are utility forward Matthew Fletcher and young backs Ben Holcroft and Joe Hartley, but Diskin says the players still have another training session before Friday and no selection decisions have yet been made.
Squad: Abram, Bent, Bridge, Brierley, Charnock, Dupree, Fletcher, Green, Gregory, Hartley, Heaton, Hewitt, Holcroft, Ince, Kirk, Langtree, Owen, Pick, Reilly, Roberts, Spencer.
Swinton, who have injury doubts about props Sam Brooks and Lewis Hatton, have signed Tom Spencer on a short-term loan agreement with Leigh Centurions.
The tie will be live on Our League, free to Oldham season-ticket holders; £4.95 for everyone else if bought before midnight Thursday; £10 for those buying on Friday.