By Liam Brown
OLDHAM RL could face five of their former players in their first away match in Betfred League One at North West Crusaders on Sunday (March 3), kick off 2.30pm.
Coach Scott Naylor’s men travel to Wrexham where they could come up against Dave Eccleston, Matty Reid, Kenny Hughes, Steve Roper and Alex Thompson who have all worn Oldham jerseys in the past, Eccleston, Reid and Hughes as recently as last season.
Hooker Hughes made more than 100 appearances for Oldham in his eight years at the club, the first two of which were spent in the then reserves team.
Naylor is aware of the threat his former players pose. He said: “With so many former Oldham players in their side they’ll be looking forward to playing us, but there’s a lot of improvement in us and we have the potential to be a very exciting team and one that’s difficult to beat.”
As well as the former Roughyeds players, the Crusaders will have two loan signings in contention for a start on Sunday. Joe Ryan and Elliot Jenkins both signed a one-month loan deal from Championship outfit Rochdale Hornets. Jenkins is a Wales international and Ryan is a forward who has come through Warrington Wolves’ academy.
Naylor added: “It’s going to be tough. They’ve recruited well and in their first home game of the season they’ll be out to make an impression in front of their own fans.”
Oldham could be without two key players for the game, full back Ritchie Hawkyard (ribs) and club captain Gareth Owen (elbow) will be given fitness checks after picking up injuries in the win over Whitehaven last Sunday.
Matty Wilkinson, who would normally be expected to replace Owen at hooker if the club captain were to fail a fitness test, did not train on Tuesday because he was unwell. Roughyeds could be without two of their recognised hookers for the away trip.
Roughyeds will return home to the Vestacare Stadium on Sunday, March 10, in the third round of the Challenge Cup when they will take on amateurs Haydock, kick off 3pm.