Scott’s derby-day selection posers

Date published: Tuesday, July 7, 2015
SCOTT Naylor admits he will have difficult selection decisions to make when he picks his team for Sunday’s big derby clash with Rochdale at Whitebank.

Although the full picture won’t be known until the players report for training tonight, early indications were that all 17 players came unscathed through the tough game against York City Knights, apart from the usual bumps and bruises.
The Roughyeds boss was full of praise for each of them after a 34-12 win which kept Oldham on top of League One, although he has often spoken of his preference to go with a horses-for-courses selection policy, based on his assessment of the opposition.
George Tyson didn’t play against York because of a niggling knee problem that has troubled him on and off for a few weeks.
It won’t be known until later in the week whether he will require more time out or whether he will be back in the selection mix to face a Hornets side that had an impressive 32-28 win at Newcastle Thunder on Sunday to climb to third place in the division.
They are two points behind top-of-the-table Oldham on the same number of games played, but Oldham have a superior for-and-against points record.
On recent form, a fit Tyson would make a strong claim for one of the centre spots, well though dual-reg pair Oliver Roberts and Jake Connor played against York.
Inexperience might count against young forward Rick Joy and teenage full-back Tom Dempsey in what is sure to be a hugely intense and physically demanding battle against the men from just across the M62.
But that wouldn’t hinder the claims of half-back Steve Roper, the squad’s senior citizen at the age of 28 and a former Rochdale player who has lost count of the number of derby battles he has played in over the years.
Roper has watched the Roughyeds’ last two games while on-loan teenager David Hewitt partnered club captain Lewis Palfrey in the wins against Gloucester All Golds and York City Knights, the 19-year-old’s first games at senior level.
A product of the St Helens academy, and one who cherishes ambitions of carving out a  Super League career at Langtree Park, Hewitt will be well known to Hornets boss Ian Talbot, who works full time on the Saints coaching and community staff.
Danny Jones (22), a former Saints youngster who had two and a half years at Barrow, made his Hornets debut off the bench in Sunday’s win at Newcastle, having been signed to compensate for the loss of middle-unit men like Richard Beaumont, Sam Brooks, Anthony Walker and Tony Suffolk, who’s in the middle of a ten-match ban.
Also in the Hornets squad at Kingstone Park were Oldhamers Danny Yates and Danny Bridge; former Roughyeds winger Dale Bloomfield; and young centre Jack Ashworth, who played a couple of games in Oldham’s reserve team in his Mayfield days before he signed for Saints.
* The funeral of lifelong Oldham fan Harry Brereton, a former chairman of the Supporters’ Club in Watersheddings days, will be at Oldham Crematorium on Thursday (3pm) and then back at Oldham RLFC, Whitebank Stadium.