Naylor to spread workload

Date published: Wednesday, April 9, 2014
WITH two games in five days coming up, Oldham boss Scott Naylor plans to spread the workload and make maximum use of his squad.
A fitness roll-call at training last night established that 21 of his 23 senior players are ready for action in matches against Gateshead Thunder at Whitebank on Sunday (3pm) and Hunslet Hawks at the South Leeds Stadium on Good Friday (2pm).
The unlucky two are loose-forward Liam Thompson, who will be out for a few weeks with a facial injury, and hooker Adam Files, whose damaged knee might not be as serious as first feared.
“He is recovering from an operation, but with a little bit of luck he might not be out for as long as we first thought,” said Naylor.
“We’ll be monitoring him over the next two or three weeks and then we’ll take stock and re-assess him, but the latest report from the specialist is certainly better than we expected.”
Naylor said he planned to use most of his 21 available players over the two games even if the side he picked for the first one came out of it injury free.
Part of his strategy is governed by the expectation that the game at Hunslet will be one of the toughest and most important challenges of the season.
“With that in mind, I’ll probably make changes for Sunday and then do some more adjustments for the Good Friday game,” he said.
“Five days between games doesn’t give us a lot of recovery time so it makes sense to get the best I can out of the squad as a whole.”
He confirmed that centre David Cookson will be back in action after six weeks out with a groin problem — “probably” in the under-20s side to play Halifax at Whitebank on Saturday (2.30pm) because he needs to build-up his match fitness.
George Tyson, he said, did more than enough on debut in the Bradford Bulls cup-tie to show that he could cope with the extra demands of senior rugby.
It wasn’t only the 20-year-old back-row forward’s first game for Oldham; it was his first taste of first-team rugby after three appearances for the under-20s side following his arrival at Whitebank on long-term loan from Salford Red Devils.
Said Naylor: “I thought he played really well. Strong defending is a big part of his game, and we need that, particularly since we lost Liam Thompson.
“Mark Hobson also impressed me. He’s been doing extra training away from the club and his fitness has improved significantly in the last two or three weeks.
“I thought he looked a lot better than in his previous games — more like his old self.”
* Well-known players from Oldham and Bradford teams of the past watched the cup-tie at the Provident Stadium last Sunday.
Martin Murphy and Mike Elliott, who between them scored 205 tries in an astonishing 908 appearances, represented the Oldham Players’ Association.
There to represent Bradford ex-players were three who had also played for Oldham —- Gary Lord, Francis Maloney and Paul Dixon.
Dixon played five times for Oldham in season 1984-85. “They then let me go because they said I wasn’t big enough,” said the forward, who went on to carve out a great career with Huddersfield, Halifax, Leeds and Bradford, playing numerous times for Great Britain.
He played in five Tests against Australia — two Down Under in 1988 and three in this country in 1990.