Look ahead for a tough trip at London

Date published: Friday, July 8, 2011

OLDHAM winger John Gillam, out injured for most of the season, is ready to make up for lost time with six games left — and then the play-offs.

Having spent most of the last four and a half months recovering from a fractured eye socket and a serious foot injury, Gillam is named in a 19-man Roughyeds squad for tomorrow’s game against London Skolars at The Stoop (5pm kick off).

He was out for ten weeks while recovering from facial surgery to mend the eye socket and a broken nose and he was in only his second game back, at Hull FC in the Carnegie Challenge Cup on May 7, when he went down heavily under a last-minute tackle and severely damaged ligaments in a foot.

[singlepic id=433 w=320 h=240 float=left]Nine weeks on he is ready to try again as Oldham head for west London to do battle with a Skolars side that, despite its lowly position in Co-operative Championship One, has won each of its last three games in the capital.

Coach Tony Benson won’t announce his side until he has to — one hour before kick off to comply with RFL rules — but the loss of centre Matthew Fogarty with an elbow injury will force at least one change in the back division and that is likely to involve either Gillam or Marcus St Hilaire, both of whom are called up to the squad.

Another change is forced on Benson in the forwards because of Dave Ellison’s serious elbow injury, but he will stick mainly with the pack that did a great job in last week’s 40-20 win against Whitehaven.

[singlepic id=572 w=320 h=240 float=left]Three of those forwards, Luke Stenchion (back), Paul Noone (foot) and Luke Sutton (thigh) have been in for treatment this week, but all three are expected to be given the all-clear to play.

Andy Isherwood and Michael Ward are drafted in to complete the 19 to travel.

Squad: Heaton, Brocklehurst, McCully, N Roden, Robinson, Gillam, St Hilaire, Forber, Casey, Clough, Ward, Sutton, Boults, Stenchion, M Roden, Bentley, Bravo, Noone, Isherwood.

Roughyeds will be aiming for a fourth win in a row, but Benson is looking for a performance that will even surpass the one that ended Whitehaven’s eight-match unbeaten run last week.

“We need to improve — and keep on improving,” said the Oldham boss, who believes that, in a tight division, there is an opportunity for Roughyeds to move several places up the table over the course of the next few weeks.

He added: “I’ve watched London’s last three games on DVD, but their team selection seems to hinge on how many dual-registered Harlequins players they have at their disposal on any weekend.

“The one thing we do know is that no matter how they line up they will pose a serious threat. They have been on top of their game in recent weeks, especially at home, and we will need to be on our mettle.”