Roughyeds confident, its game on

OLDHAM Roughyeds are confident they will win the battle to get the Whitebank Stadium pitch fit for Sunday’s Law Cup clash with derby rivals Rochdale Hornets (kick-off 3pm).

The big thaw has cleared the pitch of snow and, with warmer weather forecast to continue, club officials hope to be in a position to lay down covers by today or tomorrow.

“As things stand now we’ve got a good chance of winning the battle,” said an optimistic Roughyeds chairman, Chris Hamilton, who has taken the precaution of borrowing pitch covers from the RFL.

Both clubs are anxious to play, not only for financial reasons — it’s a shared gate — but in order to make the most of the opportunity to get their players on grass with a ball.

“We haven’t had a single session on grass yet,” said Roughyeds coach Tony Benson. “We were hoping to do so last Monday, but the thaw didn’t come soon enough and we were once again restricted to the judo gym.

“We have one more chance of getting on a field, but there is every likelihood that Sunday’s game will be the first. Little wonder the players are itching to get out there.”

Benson was waiting to speak to his Hornets counterpart John Stankevitch to agree on match details such as how many substitutes and how many substitutions will be permitted.

He added: “I’m hoping to play as many players as I have available. This will be a good opportunity to look at the boys in action, especially the new players, and to see how they perform against quality opposition in a tough game that will test us in every aspect.

“A derby against the old enemy, and one with a trophy awaiting the winners, is bound to be extremely competitive. We will be going all out to win, as we do every time we put on the Oldham jerseys, and I know Hornets will have the same attitude.”

Benson is waiting on the fitness of new boy Jack Bradbury (shoulder) and forward Chris Clarke, who went over on an ankle while training on Monday.

Hooker Danny Whitmore is away on a pre-arranged engagement and both Marcus St Hilaire and Tom Woodcock are also unavailable, but Benson expects to play most other members of his squad, including new signings Andy Isherwood, Liam Gilchrist, Alistair Williams, Michael Diveney, Ben Wood and John Clough.