Loan signings needed

Date published: Tuesday, June 11, 2013
WITH the half-way mark fast approaching in Oldham’s bid to climb out of Championship One, coach Scott Naylor is keen to top up his small squad.
He has only nine games left — four at home, five away — in which to accrue enough league points to give his young Roughyeds squad the best possible chance of a serious tilt at promotion.

With a maximum 21 points from seven games, North Wales Crusaders are a banker bet to finish top and to go up automatically.

The other club to go up in the world will be the winners of a five-team play-off involving those finishing second to sixth inclusive, currently separated by only four points.

There is no margin for error.

If Naylor’s nippers are not to finish top they will be setting their sights on second place which provides the biggest advantages in the play-off format.

Interestingly, of the nine clubs in the division, only Crusaders and third-placed Oldham have gained something from EVERY league game played.

Roughyeds have lost three of their seven, but have picked up a bonus point from each defeat — equivalent to another win — after twice losing by two points and once by ten.

Naylor is keen to approach the business end of the season with enough players at his disposal to cope with the unexpected and to mount a serious challenge for honours.

He hopes to bring in two players on loan as soon as possible, having coped so far thanks to an absolute minimum number of injuries.

Said the Oldham boss: “We’re on the borderline at the moment, but if we were to get a couple of injuries we could have a problem.

“We’ve had a small squad all season, but another two players would take off some of the pressure and provide us with a bit more strength in depth, which we are likely to need.”

Oldham are currently using two players from Super League link club Salford City Reds —- hooker Adam Files on season-long loan and centre Jon Ford on a week-to-week dual registration.

Naylor is in regular contact with recently-appointed Salford coach Brian Noble, who was once his boss at Bradford Bulls.

He added: “Brian is still tinkering with his Salford squad, so he wants to keep most of his lads back at the moment, which I can fully understand.”

There are some promising young players in the Roughyeds’ under-20s squad, but most of them are aged 17 or 18 and are not considered ready yet for the massive leap to first-team rugby.

Two of the older ones, however, have already taken their tentative first steps up the ladder.

Back-row forward Niall Bradley made his first-team debut against London Skolars and was 18th man at North Wales Crusaders.

Sam Singleton, a highly-rated scrum-half, was upgraded to train with the first-team squad several weeks ago and is waiting patiently for his opportunity.