HAVING had a game-free weekend, like most clubs in the Championship and League 1, Oldham hope to see the benefits when they check on injuries this evening (Tues) ahead of Saturday’s league game at Batley Bulldogs (12.45pm)
Several players suffered the usual early-season bumps and knocks in the opening league game against Swinton Lions, a promising 28-20 win in a bruiser on Good Friday, but with 15 days between games and plenty of time for recovery they shouldn’t pose too many worries.
Players with specific injuries. including those who have already missed games, will head the list of priorities for fitness assessment.
These include Luke Nelmes. Phil Joy, Lewis Charnock, Tommy Brierley, James Barran and Kyran Johnson.
Hooker Matty Wilkinson is out for most of the season with a broken leg and both Cam Leeming and Ed Smith have taken early retirement because of injuries, so that effectively leaves coach Matt Diskin with a squad of 27 — still more than the last few years and with cover in every position.
Roughyeds face a tough challenge at Batley, who have twice gone close to pulling off shock wins at Featherstone, in cup and league, and who blitzed Halifax at The Shay in the first round of the Challenge Cup.
They have strengthened considerably this season with the recruitment of four former Super League players in winger Jodie Broughton, centre Kieran Buchanan, half-back Tom Gilmore and utility back Jack Logan. Some pundits are comparing this year’s Batley squad with the one they had in 2016 when they finished third in the regular season behind Leigh and London Broncos.
Under Matt Diskin in 2017, 2018 and 2019 they finished sixth, seventh and tenth respectively . They rarely challenge for honours in the Championship, yet they are usually safe around mid-table long before the start of the relegation battle.
They are a well-established Championship side and one that, initially at least, Roughyeds will aspire to emulate.
It will be the first time the teams have met since Diskin’s departure from the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium and his subsequent appointment as Oldham boss, so he will clearly be out to put one over on his former club.
It was after his first season at Batley that he made a successful approach for Oldham forward Michael Ward, who is still there, still coming off the bench as an impact player, having made 53 Batley appearances, all but five of them off the bench.