Oldham new boys set for home debuts
Date published: 25 January 2018
Ex-Hornets points machine Paul Crook joins Oldham
Nine of Oldham's ten new signings are likely to be on view in the Roughyeds' first home game of 2018 at the refurbished Vestacare Stadium (3pm) on Sunday.
Liam Bent, a young forward from Salford Red Devils, is the odd man out. He dislocated an elbow in the Law Cup win at Rochdale.
The others are in contention to make home debuts against Keighley Cougars in the Roughyeds' only warm-up game to be played in Oldham.
Watch out for goal-kicking stand-off Paul Crook, one of League One's leading points scorers in recent years, and big centre Matt Reid, captain of Coventry Bears last year and two-try man of the match in the Roughyeds' impressive Law Cup win at Rochdale.
Full-back Kyran Johnson, from Featherstone Rovers, has pace to burn on kick returns and should benefit from playing on the Vestacare Stadium's new artificial pitch.
An expensive 3G of the highest quality, it can support rugby league and football and is said to be the only one of its type in the borough.
It should also suit Dave Eccleston, a 21-year-old winger from St Helens, who figured prominently in the derby triumph at Rochdale, but did not play at Barrow.
Utility backs Jack Holmes and Danny Rasool have returned 'home'; Holmes after a season and a bit at Rochdale and Rasool after a loan spell at Workington Town from Warrington Wolves. He was at Whitebank as a teenager in a reserve side coached by Phil Costin.
The other newcomers are forwards - Luke Nelmes, a big prop from Halifax, Adam Jones, a rangy back-rower from Swinton Lions and Oldhamer Danny Bridge, who is already forming a lethal-looking left-edge attack with Reid.
He made a name for himself in two years at Rochdale, followed by a similar period playing for Redcliffe Dolphins in the Queensland Cup, a tough and highly-rated competition which is generally regarded as one tier down from the NRL.
At 20 years and four months, the energetic Bent is the youngest member of the squad , followed by two 21-year-olds in Eccleston and hooker Matty Wilkinson, who gave an impressive performance in the Barrow mudbath.
Of the seven squad members who didn't play at Craven Park, Eccleston, Holmes and Steve Nield are expected to be back on Sunday.
Bent and Gareth Owen are ruled out by injury, while Danny Langtree (illness) and Ben Davies, who has a problem with his back, are doubtful.
Kenny Hughes, who had an operation on a finger on Monday, will also be absent, leaving Wilkinson with plenty of work to do from dummy half, while Owen and Hughes look on.
Of the 21 contracted players, three are definitely ruled out by injury and two more might join them, thus giving coach Scott Naylor plenty of scope and flexibility with which to dovetail his five trialists into the mix, as he did at Barrow.
Admission prices: £10 adults, £6 concessions, £2 under-16s with a £2 across-the-board upgrade for a seat in the stand.