London Skolars coach Joe Mbu will pick from a full-strength squad when he finalises the team that will take on Oldham in Sunday’s mouthwatering Kingstone Press Championship One fixture.
The Skolars played Featherstone in a friendly last week, with Mbu admitting that plenty of players had made their mark.
Mbu said: “A lot of the guys that I thought were a long way away showed they are not that far away from where they need to be.”
On Oldham, he added: “They are well coached and well drilled team. That’s what every team works towards, having a well-drilled team in attack and defence and everyone knowing their roles.
“Our biggest challenge at the moment is getting players to understand where they need to be, but we are doing OK. We just need to keep our heads down and keep working hard, and certainly we’ve been doing that this week.”
He continued: “The main priority for me and the club is to show improvement each year, not just as a club but as a developing squad. Each year we are showing small improvements and that’s because of the way we approach things.”
Oldham travel without Liam Thompson (fractured cheekbone) and David Cookson (groin).
ADAM Files is Oldham RL Club’s latest injury victim.
The young hooker hurt a knee in training on Tuesday and is ruled out of Sunday’s trip to the capital to take on London Skolars at the White Hart Lane Community Sports Centre (3pm).
On a brighter note, full-back Tom Whitehead (leg injury) has been cleared to play after sitting out the Challenge Cup win at Egremont.
With the season only three games old, that leaves Files, Liam Thompson (facial injury) and David Cookson (damaged groin) on the injured list and limits coach Scott Naylor to 20 fit players. Including an 18th man, or reserve, all but two of those will go to London .
The party to travel has not yet been finalised, Naylor admitting after training last night that he is still pondering on his options.
Players under consideration, as well as those on duty at Egremont last week, will be London-born prop Paddy Mooney, hooker Danny Whitmore, Whitehead and utility forward George Tyson (20), who has yet to play at first-team level.
Central to Naylor’s selection will be his insistence that Roughyeds smarten themselves up defensively.
Though still undefeated, they have conceded a total of 38 second-half points in their last two games —- 20 in the league against Hemel Stags at Whitebank and 18 in the cup at Egremont.
“We did a lot of good things in Cumbria, but we need to be a lot better in defence,” said the Oldham boss.
“We have spoken about that at training this week, and worked on things accordingly.
“We are scoring points (80 in three games) but we need to be a lot more organised and efficient at the other end of the field.
“There will be at least one change because Files isn’t fit, but in terms of the composition of the 17 plus an 18th man, I haven’t decided yet.
“I don’t know a lot about London because it’s still early season and they have had a big turnover of players since last year.
“I’ve only just got my hands on a DVD of their defeat at Oxford, but we’ve got to concentrate on what we do, rather than what they might do, and go down there and play well.”
There have been so many comings and goings at the London club that last season’s results are of little significance, but for the record Roughyeds beat them three times — 30-22 at Whitebank, 44-24 in London and 64-8 at Whitebank in the play-off semi-final.
They’ve since lost key men in 20-try full-back James Anthony and goalkicker Dylan Skee, who amassed 248 points from 100 goals and 12 tries.
One of their new recruits, on-loan prop Ryan Macdonald from North Wales Crusaders, gave Oldham much to think about in each of their three games against the Welshmen last season.
Another to look out for is 29-year-old Pacific Islander Patelisio Pelo, said to be big, strong and fast and a forward in whom Skolars boss Joe Mbu has high hopes. Having played only one league game so far, with a bye in the cup, the Londoners played a friendly against Featherstone last weekend and by all accounts showed up well.
OLDHAM (from): Nield, Whitehead; Agoro, Wood, Gee, Okanga-Ajwang, Bloomfield; Palfrey, Robinson; Boults, Hughes, Whitmore, Ward, Mooney, Joy, Davidson, Crowley, Langtree, Hobson, Tyson.
SKOLARS (from): Paxton, Macani, Tuffour, Tabb, Carty, Gigot, Bradley, Williams, O’Connor, Purslow, Pelo, Bryan, Worrincy, Smith, Thomas, Sykes, Macdonald