Latest signing Daniel Igbinedion will get some game time in Sunday’s pre-season game at Barrow (2pm), although Oldham boss Matt Diskin is mindful that the new boy’s run-out at training last night was his first for some time.
“He’ll be sore today, that’s for sure, but we’ll give him a bit of time on the pitch,” said Diskin, who intends to play 19 of his 21 players at Craven Park.
The odd men out are props Jode Sheriffe and Ben Davies, who are carrying niggles. “They are not seriously hurt, but the niggles need managing if we are to get them back on the field as soon as possible,” added Diskin.
The Roughyeds’ new boss has been more than satisfied with pre-season training, but he didn’t play nearly 400 Super League games for Leeds Rhinos and Bradford Bulls, win the Harry Sunderland Trophy as man-of-the-match in a Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford and play in World Club Championship games without learning that there’s a world of difference between training and facing fired-up opponents.“We’ve looked exceptionally good in training, but we can all be world-beaters on the training pitch,” he said. “The result in games like this isn’t the be-all-and-end-all. It would be nice to win but we’ve got to look at the bigger picture of what lies ahead of us in the next eight months.“I’ll be trying some players in different positions and looking at pairings and partnerships.
“The main thing is to see how we shape up when we’ve got tough opponents against us and we’re under a bit of pressure. It’s a different story when you’re in a game. So far I’ve only seen the lads in training and I will be interested to see how we do under pressure.”
The 19 players on duty at Craven Park (alphabetical order) will be Harry Aaronson, Dan Abram, Liam Bent, Danny Bridge, Adam Brook, Lewis Charnock, Dave Hewitt, John Hutchings, Daniel Igbinedion, Kyran Johnson, Phil Joy, Declan Kay, Danny Langtree, Cameron Leeming, Gareth Owen, Ed Smith, Jack Spencer, Matty Wilkinson, James Worthington.
Roughyeds ask travelling fans to leave in plenty of time, not only because the game will kick-off at 2pm but because of Barrow’s new method of ticket purchasing which may take longer than usual until club and fans are used to it.
After a slow start to last season, Barrow have planned to hit the ground running this time.
They’ve introduced a new training schedule — Wednesday and Friday evenings only instead of Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings — and they hope it will produce more on the pitch, especially from the Lancashire-based players, whose travelling will be considerably reduced.
Said coach Paul Crarey: “We’ve also got people like Shane Toal and Declan Hulme back while Ryan Duffy is in the best shape he’s been in for a while. “Carl Forster has also shed about 13 kgs. In fact, all the boys are looking sharp and fit.”
Final word from Diskin: “I’m looking forward to the challenge of turning Oldham into a long-term Championship club. Its going to be tough, but it’s far from beyond us.”
The first game under his tutelage will be a special one for utility back Abram and stand-off Charnock, who used to play for the Raiders.
By Roger Halstead