Two new faces in the ranks

OLDHAM RL Club’s plans to go into the London Skolars game at Whitebank on Sunday with two new faces in the ranks suffered a setback last night.

Prop Luke Stenchion will make his debut, but the Roughyeds’ bid to bring in another new boy on loan fell victim to an 11th-hour about-turn by his club.

Oldham will not identify their target, but club officials have revealed that he trained with Roughyeds last night with the approval of his club and on the understanding that formalities would be completed today.

Negotiations were so well advanced that the player was involved in the Roughyeds’ match preparations and was fully expected to play against Skolars.

“We then got a phone call from his club to say they had changed their mind because they couldn’t risk losing him for a month at a time when they have injuries of their own to worry about,” said Oldham chairman Chris Hamilton.

“Under RFL rules a player can’t move on loan for less than one month and that seems to be the problem with the player’s club. The lad wants to come, and it was all going to be sorted today, but we keep being frustrated in our efforts to bring in at least one more new signing to add to that of Luke Stenchion.

“Needless to say, this won’t be the end of our endeavours. We are continuing to work at it today and we still remain hopeful of having another new face in the side on Sunday.”

Full-back Ben Heaton continues to be hit by wretched luck. He played at Keighley last time out after missing two games with severe tonsillitis, but he has now damaged a knee in training.

He had to be carried from the field while going down in practice on Tuesday night and his chances of playing on Sunday are said to be slim.

Winger John Gillam, recovering after surgery to repair a broken nose and a fractured eye socket, is still some weeks away, but it’s been a long time since there were only two names on the club’s casualty list — Heaton and Gillam.

Marcus St Hilaire, Neil Roden, Valu Bentley, Luke Sutton, Andy Isherwood, Martin Roden and Matthew Fogarty are all back in full training now and are expected to be available for selection.

Coach Tony Benson won’t settle on his side until training tomorrow, but he is expected to choose from the 17 who played at Keighley plus Sutton, Fogarty, St Hilaire, Neil Roden, debutant Stenchion and hopefully one more new face.

Having lost three of their first four league games while badly hit by injuries, Benson will be keen to see his side bounce back to winning ways against one of his former clubs.

Skolars have still to win a league match this year but they stunned leaders Swinton last week when going down 38-30 at The Willows to pick up a bonus point.

Under-16s accompanied by a paying adult go free to this game, while fans buying a ticket at the club’s office in Lansdowne Road, Chadderton before 5pm today can get a second one for half price.

Free vouchers for under-16s will be available from the ticket kiosk close to the turnstiles, but the special offer for adult fans must be activated at the office before 5pm today.

Roughyeds reserves also have a home game against York City Knights at Whitebank tomorrow, kick-off 2.30pm.