Gilly winning his fitness fight

Date published: Wednesday, April 24, 2013

LIAM Gilchrist, out for five weeks with a calf injury, is winning his fight for fitness in the build-up to Oldham RL Club’s intriguing clash with Tony Benson’s Oxford at Whitebank on Sunday (3pm).

After spending three weeks on a specially devised programme of rehabilitation, the 24-year-old prop-forward came through a tough fitness test last night in a one-to-one session with physiotherapist Patrick Hoyte.
Said coach Scott Naylor: “If he suffers no reaction he will train with the full squad on Thursday and then he considered for selection with everybody else.
“He is the only doubt. Everybody else is fit and raring to go.”
Gilchrist has missed the last three games, having been injured in the 24-12 Northern Rail Cup win against South Wales Scorpions in Neath on March 24.
If he gets the thumbs-up the former St Helens youngster will add to Naylor’s selection headache at front-row where the boss will have half a dozen props chasing four spots.
He was more than satisfied with Jason Boults, Callum Marriott, Phil Joy and Michael Ward in the 36-0 win over Gloucester All Golds last time out, but he has opted to implement a squad rotation policy several times already this season so Chris Tyrer and Gilchrist could also be in the mix.
Liam Thompson’s emergence after a shoulder operation, followed by a successful debut against the All Golds, also gives Naylor options in the back-row.
Does he go, in his starting line-up, for Mark Hobson’s defensive qualities and greater experience or plump for 21-year-old Thompson’s attacking flair and prowess on the ball ?
He has a similar conundrum at hooker where Adam Files, Kenny Hughes and Sam Gee, who was rested last time, will be competing for two places.
Benson, meanwhile, has several players having treatment, including Martin Roden (head), Lucas Onyango (knee), Chris Clarke (dead leg) and Brett Robinson (hamstring).
In stark contrast to Naylor’s decision to play a practice match at Salford, Benson welcomed last Sunday’s day off because of his injury list.
His latest northern-based signing is Danny Halliwell, who played for him at Oldham in 2009 before going on loan to Barrow   half way through the season along with Andy Ballard, James Coyle and David Allen.
Halliwell (32) played mainly at centre for Oldham, but he made his Oxford debut in the second-row in the narrow home defeat by South Wales.
He has been playing and assisting with coaching at Tyldesley RU Club and is said to have retained his pace despite weighing in now at 16 and a half stone.