Kirk remains a doubt for Rovers clash
Date published: 12 May 2021
Oldham travel to second-in-the-table Featherstone Rovers next Monday night
Front-row forward Liam Kirk, who took a blow to his head in the first few minutes of Oldham's clash with Whitehaven at Bower Fold on Saturday, is currently following the RFL's return-to-play protocols for players who suffer head injuries.
He was knocked-out when making a tackle and helped from the field, never to return.
Martyn Reilly replaced him off the bench, but it meant that, for all but four minutes, Oldham were a big front-rower short in terms of making substitutions and spreading the work load.
It reminded fans of a similar setback at Batley Bulldogs last month when Danny Bridge damaged a knee in the first couple of minutes.
Like Kirk on Saturday, he also went off and stayed off.
He was out for three weeks, in fact.
When substitutes were first introduced many years ago, they were brought in specifically to reduce the negative impact of injuries, but in the modern game all 17 players are usually used and those on the bench, mainly forwards, are there for tactical reasons.
That's why losing a key member of the pack so early can be so damaging - and it was certainly a big setback on Saturday when Oldham suffered their first home defeat of the season, 36-4, and missed the opportunity to go fifth in the Championship.
As it is, they are in 11th place, ahead of Swinton Lions, Widnes Vikings and Newcastle Thunder and their next big test is at second-in-the-table Featherstone Rovers next Monday night, May 17, with an 8pm kick-off.
The game has been moved from the Sunday to Monday evening so that, under Government guidelines, Rovers can welcome back some fans, but only a few.
They are currently restricting entrance to their own season-ticket holders, with a capacity of 1,600.
Away fans are not allowed.
Oldham will have to play much better than they did in their disappointing display against the Cumbrians if they are to take points off Featherstone, whose only defeat so far this season was a 34-14 second-round Betfred Challenge Cup loss to Super League club Hull FC.
It is too early yet to assess Kirk's chances for Monday, but on-loan centre Jack Croft looks like being out for a week or two with a knee injury, while the club is waiting for reports on Danny Langtree, who suffered a wrist injury in the later stages of the 'Haven game.
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