Whitehead’s fitness check

Date published: Thursday, March 20, 2014
TOM Whitehead, who has been battling to shake off a leg injury, will be checked out at training tonight as Oldham RL club prepare for Sunday’s trip to London Skolars.
The full-back missed the Roughyeds’ cup win at Egremont Rangers (Cumbria), but with Liam Thompson and David Cookson on the long-term injury list, coach Scott Naylor won’t want anyone else out of action for longer than is absolutely necessary.
Phil Joy and Mark Hobson were in the cup team for the first time this season, while 19-year-old dual-registration centre Edwin Okanga-Ajwang made his Roughyeds’ debut off the bench midway through the first half.
Hobson was substituted after 25 minutes and the young Salford player was given his chance at left-centre with Sam Gee switching inside to replace Hobson at loose-forward.
With Danny Whitmore and Londoner Paddy Mooney also pushing for recalls, Naylor will have no shortage of options in the selection of his forwards.
Skolars are among the teams Oldham play three times in a 20-match Championship One programme so this will be the first of two trips to north London.
It will be a journey into the unknown for Naylor’s men, given that Skolars have had a massive turnover of players since the end of last season.
As many as 20 have left, including some of their leading lights such as half-back Dylan Skee, full-back James Anthony and winger Gareth Raynor.
Coach Joe Mbu fielded nine debutants in a 19-12 defeat at Oxford in the Skolars’ only competitive game so far.
Among them were centre Dennis Tuffour from Doncaster, another centre Thomas Tabb (ex-Widnes and Sale Sharks), prop Ryan Macdonald (on loan from North Wales Crusaders) and second-row man Patelisio Pelo, a Pacific islander who has played in France for Toulouse and Avignon.
Said Mbu: “A lot has been made of the fact that we’ve lost players of the calibre of Skee and Anthony, but we’ve brought in quality players who will make an impact.
“Pelo, a big man with pace, will be a huge success, I’m sure, and we are delighted to get Ryan Macdonald to give us some experience in the front row.
“Crusaders have started well and he’s not in the team so we are giving him game time until they want him back.”