Scott ready to make changes

Date published: Thursday, March 13, 2014

SCOTT Naylor says he will make team changes this weekend following Oldham’s poor second-half showing against Hemel Stags.

Injury will rule out Liam Thompson and David Cookson for several weeks, but the Roughyeds boss has confirmed that as many as five players might each earn a call-up for their first senior game of the season.
Forwards Phil Joy, Mark Hobson and George Tyson and backs Mo Agoro and Edwin Okanga-Ajwang will all be considered for Saturday’s third-round Tetley’s Challenge Cup tie away to Cumbrian amateurs Egremont Rangers.
Rangers have home advantage, but the tie (3pm kick off) has to be played at a venue which meets minimum standards so it will go to the Copeland Stadium, a community sports facility in nearby Whitehaven.
Naylor is expected to finalise his side tonight after fitness checks on full-back Tom Whitehead, who is said to be doubtful with a leg injury.
“I’m not short of players because we’ve put together a squad this year that can cope with early-season injuries like those to Cookson and Thompson,” said Naylor.
“We hardly had any injuries last season, but that was never going to happen again. It was a one-off.
“We took that into consideration when building this squad and that’s why, with two league games gone, we’ve still got so many players waiting for their first chance.
“There’s going to be changes. I wasn’t happy with the way we let Hemel back into the game (it ended 20-20) after we had led 16-0 at half-time without breaking sweat.
“We weren’t put on the back foot by quality, speed or strength; Hemel got on top in the second half because we were a bit off the mark, perhaps thinking we already had the game won.
“You can’t get away with that against anyone in Championship One.
“In the first half we showed them a lot of respect, and did things right. All we needed in the second half was more of the same, but we didn’t get it.
“It’s not always about playing free-flowing rugby; it’s about doing the right things in the right areas of the field.
“We led 20-12 with three minutes to go. I thought any one of four or five players in the Oldham side would have had it in them to take control of the situation and see us home, but not one of them did.
“All this has been discussed this week, but it’s time now to move on and to prepare for the next game.”
Naylor believes Cookson’s groin injury will keep him out for “four to five weeks” with Thompson looking at an absence of “six weeks or even more”.
The loose-forward suffered fractures of the eye socket and upper cheekbone in three places when he clashed heads with team mate Kenny Hughes against Hemel.