Joy, Hughes set to step up

Date published: Friday, March 15, 2013

FRIENDLIES excluded, Kenny Hughes and Phil Joy will play their first senior games of the season in Oldham’s Northern Rail Cup clash with Gateshead Thunder at Whitebank on Sunday (3pm).

Hughes, one of three hookers in the Roughyeds’ first-team squad, has trailed Sam Gee and Adam Files in the pecking order up to now, but this will be the game in which opportunity knocks for the 22-year-old from St Helens.
Local boy Joy (21), Hughes’s prop on many an occasion in the reserves last year, will also get a chance to win his spurs at senior level, having played as a permitted over-age forward in each of the two under-20s games at Leigh and Rochdale.
Significantly, coach Scott Naylor has once again chosen to stick with contracted Oldham players rather than bring in dual registered men from link club Salford City Reds.
The side that enjoyed a comprehensive 26-10 win over Rochdale Hornets last time out came through unscathed, so the only unavailable member of the 22-strong squad is long-term injury victim Liam Thompson, who will soon be ready for action after a shoulder operation.
Naylor will select from:
Backs: Neil Roden, Jamie Dallimore, Dale Bloomfield, Steven Nield, Mo Agoro, Lewis Palfrey, David Cookson, Richard Lepori and Danny Samuel.
Forwards: Josh Crowley, Danny Langtree, Phil Joy, Liam Gilchrist, Mark Hobson, Chris Tyrer, Jason Boults, Kenny Hughes, Sam Gee, Michael Ward, Callum Marriott, Adam Files.
The Roughyeds boss has confirmed that Hughes and Joy will be involved and has hinted that Neil Roden and David Cookson, who are also awaiting their first senior appearance, might also be considered.
Said Naylor: “I’m going to make changes from within the squad, but I want to make it clear that I am not dropping anyone, especially after such a good performance to beat Rochdale.
“I am using the squad because I want everyone to retain match fitness so they are always ready for action.
“On top of that I know everyone can do a good job and it’s only fair for every member of the squad to be given a taste of senior action as early as possible.
“Unfortunately, I can only pick 17 in any one game.”
Looking ahead to Sunday, he added: “We’ve got a very happy camp, and everyone is looking forward to the game.
“Thunder will be tough to beat, make no mistake.
“They are a big, athletic team with good fitness levels and they will be tough to beat,
“We will need to play at least as well as we did in the derby clash, if not better.
“We aim to play like that, as a minimum standard, every time we take to the field, no matter who is facing us.”
Thunder expect to be strengthened up front by the return after injury of props Jack Stearman and Jake Smith.
Said coach Kevin Neighbour: “We’ve a lot of improvement in us.”