Signing DeadlineDate published: Thursday, July 23, 2015
CLUBS with promotion ambitions at the top end of Kingstone Press League One, including Oldham, will be busy looking for squad-strengthening opportunities in the countdown to Friday’s signing deadline.
With seven games to play, including the visits to Whitebank of promotion rivals Keighley, Barrow and Swinton, Roughyeds currently have 20 players under lock and key, plus teenage half-back David Hewitt, who is on loan from St Helens.
Of the 20, utility back Steven Nield won’t play again this season because of a serious knee injury and young players like Tom Dempsey and Richard Joy, who are in their first seasons at senior level, have only a dozen first-team appearances between them.
Tom Ashton is expected to be back in action soon after more than three months out with knee ligament damage and Richard Lepori has just returned to the club after nearly two seasons away. He is awaiting his first game back, which may come in Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash at North Wales Crusaders (kick-off 2.30pm).
Heading up to deadline day, these are the full-on Oldham players who are under contract and who have provided the backbone of a side that proudly sits on top of League One in readiness for the final push:
Backs: Steve Roper, Steven Nield, Lewis Palfrey, Sam Gee, Adam Clay, George Tyson, Jack Holmes, Tom Dempsey, Tom Ashton, Richard Lepori.
Forwards: Josh Crowley, Danny Langtree, Kenny Hughes, Michael Ward, Phil Joy, Richard Joy, Adam Files, Liam Thompson, Adam Neal, Gareth Owen.
With the likelihood that available players are being targeted by more than one club, Oldham have good reason for playing their cards close to their chest.
However, they have been trying for a while to sign at least one new player, who is thought to be caught up in a transfer chain over which Oldham have no control.
Like most of the coaches in the upper half of the division, Scott Naylor has topped up his squad since day one with the use of loan or dual-registration players, in his case mainly from partner club Huddersfield Giants.
In the 20 cup and league games played to date, these are the players who have helped Oldham out on loan or dual-reg, while themselves gaining invaluable experience to take back to their Super League clubs (number of appearances in brackets):
Jodie Broughton (1), Jake Connor (2), Josh Johnson (5), Micky Learmonth (2), Nathan Mason (16), Oliver Roberts (8), Jacob Fairbank (1), all from Huddersfield; Jon Ford (8), from Salford Red Devils; David Hewitt (2), from St Helens.
Learmonth has left Giants to sign for York, while Mason has been recalled from his loan spell at Whitebank and elevated to a substitute’s role in Super League.
Loan players are governed by the Friday deadline, while the cut-off point for dual-reg players is this Sunday evening after completion of games in round 16.
Once their respective deadlines have passed, no further movement is allowed and players can only turn out for one club to the end of the season.
Another stipulation on dual-reg is that, after Sunday’s games, only players who have turned out three or more times for the same club on DR can play out the rest of the season for that club, always assuming their full=time employers don’t pull up the drawbridge.
In Oldham’s case it means only Johnson and Roberts are eligible to play out the season for Roughyeds on DR and even that depends on the approval of Giants boss Paul Anderson and the wishes of the players themselves.
Mason could come back on loan, but if he did his services would be denied to Huddersfield until next season.
Similar regulations apply in respect of Salford’s Ford so there is clearly plenty of talking to be done by the clubs concerned in the next 48 hours.