Fully-fit squad for derby clash

Date published: Wednesday, April 1, 2015
OLDHAM will kick-off the new League One season at Rochdale on Friday (3pm) with a fully-fit squad which will include several derby-day debutants.

“We’re injury free, problem free — and all ready to go,” said head coach Scott Naylor after last night’s training session.
He won’t go public with his 17-man squad until an hour before kick-off at Spotland, but of the 21 players at his disposal, Adam Clay, Jack Holmes, Jarrod Ward, Adam Neal, Gareth Owen, George Tyson, Richard Joy and Tom Dempsey have never experienced an Oldham–Rochdale derby.
It will be the first of three games in ten days for Roughyeds, the RFL having ruled that their iPro Sport Cup semi-final against North Wales Crusaders at Whitebank must be played next Wednesday, April 8, kicking-off at 7.30pm.
That was the date Oldham wanted, but the final decision went to the governing body because Crusaders preferred Wednesday, April 15.
“We’re pleased with the outcome because it was the sensible decision,” said Oldham chairman Chris Hamilton. “It doesn’t give any advantage to either side, but it does mean we have three games in ten days instead of three in eight.”
On the following Sunday, April 12, Roughyeds have their first home league game against Coventry Bears, whom they have already beaten twice at Whitebank in each of the two cup competitions that have been running in tandem throughout March.
Last Sunday’s postponement of the Oldham-Crusaders semi-final because the Whitebank pitch was waterlogged means that both Hornets and Naylor’s men will be playing for the first time in nearly a fortnight.
“At least we’re now on a level playing field in that respect,” added the Oldham team boss.
“Rochdale have lost their last two games in cup competitions against good opposition so their confidence might be a little bit damaged.
“Having said that, it’s a derby game and it will come down to which of the two sides want it the most.
“The last time we went to Spotland we won, but since then they’ve beaten us at Whitebank in a play-off game and then in the 2013 Grand Final.
“For the first game of a new league season a derby at Spotland couldn’t be any tougher — or any better.”
Naylor doesn’t anticipate either side being significantly strengthened by dual-registration players because Super League clubs have a hectic Easter schedule which includes games on Friday and Monday.
The Oldham boss will give his players Saturday and Sunday off before preparations begin in earnest for next Wednesday’s semi-final.