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Date published: Monday, February 21, 2011

OLDHAM RL boss Tony Benson expects both Valu Bentley and Ben Heaton to be fighting for places in the Roughyeds side to face Whitehaven at Whitebank on Sunday (3pm) in the club’s fourth and final Northern Rail Cup pool game.

Hopes of qualification for the competition’s last eight took a serious knock with a 29-20 defeat by Swinton at Salford yesterday, Oldham’s second defeat in three pool games.

Loose-forward Bentley (concussion) and full-back Heaton (groin) were left out of yesterday’s game as precautionary measures, while prop Dave Ellison was given a rest.

Explained Benson: “David was under intense pressure all last week in his full-time employment. He managed to get to training on Tuesday and Thursday, but he was exhausted by the time we finished on Thursday.

“He didn’t train with us on Saturday, so he was given a rest today to give him the chance to recharge his batteries.”

Matty Ashe was 18th man at The Willows, while Liam Gilchrist failed to make the cut.

Happily, there were no new injury problems as a result of yesterday’s game so if Bentley and Heaton come through as expected Benson will have a full squad from which to choose his side to take on the Cumbrians.

Marcus St Hilaire gave an accomplished performance at full-back in his first run-out of the season, while two-try Mark Brocklehurst gave a sterling show at centre in his first game since the opening friendly against Rochdale Hornets.

“It looks like I’m going to have a few options,” added Benson, “so picking a side for the Whitehaven game is not going to be easy.”