Update ahead of Clash at the Willows

Date published: Thursday, May 26, 2011

TONY Benson’s Oldham Roughyeds, who go into the Lions’ den tomorrow (Friday) night as rank outsiders, are sweating on the fitness of two senior backs — winger John Gillam and centre Marcus St Hilaire.

Gillam (foot) and St Hilaire (hand) are hoping to return to the side against unbeaten Championship One leaders Swinton Lions at The Willows (8pm kick off).

Oldham’s threequarter line has been ripped apart by injury in recent weeks with first-choice wingers, Gillam and Lucas Onyango, having had operations, Gillam to mend a smashed nose and eye socket and Onyango to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon which will keep him out for weeks.

In only his second game back at Hull in the cup Gillam suffered ligament damage in a foot — and to compound the backs’ bad-luck story centre Mick Fogerty faces a long lay-off after severely hurting a knee against South Wales Scorpions in his first game of the season.

St Hilaire, meanwhile, missed several games with a hamstring injury. He was ready to return to the side that faced Scorpions only to suffer a badly gashed hand in an accident at work.

Both he and Gillam trained normally on Tuesday, however, and they will face final fitness tests tonight before Benson settles on his side to take on the league leaders.

Anchor man Neil Roden and his cousin Martin Roden, two of the squad’s most influential players, are expected to be cleared after receiving treatment over the past two weeks for niggling knocks.

Benson, however, will have to make changes at half-back and in the front-row because on-loan scrum-half Carl Forber can’t play under the terms of the loan agreement and prop Jason Boults is struggling with an ankle injury.

The Lions have already beaten Benson’s men twice this year, winning 29-20 at The Willows in a Northern Rail Cup game in February and 68-24 in a league game at Whitebank in March.

Benson threw his provisional side up against the Reserves at training on Tuesday, concentrating heavily on getting his men to work well under pressure.

*The next meeting of Oldham Roughyeds’ Supporters’ Association (ORSA) has been put back from June 3 to June 10 (8pm) at Whitebank.