Date published: 13 September 2013
SCOTT Naylor’s team selection for Sunday’s play-off semi-final with Rochdale will hinge on the fitness of top try scorer Jon Ford.
The 19-year-old centre hasn’t played since he dislocated an elbow at London Skolars on August 4, but he has been training all week, raising hopes he will be ready to return.
The final decision will be made by Ford and by Salford’s medical team.
Fifteen-try Ford has been seconded to Roughyeds for much of this season on loan, but he remains a Salford player.
“I’ll go along with whatever they decide,” said Naylor, “but Jon will have a big say in it, I’m sure of that.”
If Ford is cleared, he will play and Josh Crowley - who deputised for him in the last two games of the season, would probably return to his preferred position in the second row, adding to Naylor’s selection headaches.
Prop Liam Gilchrist is fully fit after recovering from a pulled hamstring after the win at Rochdale on August 15. That leaves Langtree, Mark Hobson, Liam Thompson, Chris Clarke and maybe Crowley all vying for back-three spots, at least one of which will go to a replacement hooker.
Rochdale are making a lot of the fact that Roughyeds have not had a competitive game for a month, but Naylor, his assistant Lee Spencer and conditioner Mike Hughes have planned meticulously over the last four weeks to give the players the best possible chance of competing on level terms.
Skipper Lewis Palfrey said: “Our preparations have been first class. We’re a young squad (average age 22) and at the start of the season nobody gave us a chance.”
Roughyeds want Oldham fans to be the team's ‘18th man’ in Sunday's play-off clash.
Coach Scott Naylor and his assistant Lee Spencer were in a Spotland crowd of only 320 when Rochdale beat London Skolars 26-24 last Sunday to set up a fifth derby head-to-head in less than seven months.
Said Spencer: "It was a pitiful attendance for a play-off tie, and one in stark contrast to our last two Whitebank crowds, which topped 1,200 for North Wales and 1,100 for bottom-of-the-table Gloucester.
"With such a lot riding on Sunday's game we'd like to think we could get our biggest crowd of the season and perhaps even a best-ever attendance at Whitebank." The record is 1,275 for a play-off clash with York City Knights three years ago.
IF Oldham win, tickets for the final at Leigh Sports Village on September 29 will go on general sale from the refreshment van inside the ground 20 minutes after the final whistle.
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