Table-topping Oldham have been dealt a blow with the news that Jon Ford, their leading try scorer, is likely to miss the rest of the season after dislocating his left elbow.
The Roughyeds are five points clear of second-placed North Wales, but the Crusaders do have two games in hand, meaning Oldham will need to win their remaining fixtures and hope other results go their way.
Losing Ford, who is on dual registration from Salford, will be seen as a setback to the promotion hopefuls, especially with how prolific the 19-year-old has been so far this season.
The St Helens-born centre has played in most of Oldham’s matches this year, scoring 15 tries. That total has included hat-tricks against Gateshead and North Wales, and also a four-try performance in the win at South Wales in mid-June.
Head coach Scott Naylor will however be boosted by the return to training this week of David Cookson.
After missing the last two games for family reasons, Cookson will be available for selection against Gloucestershire in Sunday’s final home game of the regular season.
As too will be versatile new signing Tom Whitehead, who was not in the squad for the trip to London last weekend.
Whitehead, who had previously played as full-back for the Roughyeds, was left out in favour of the regular last line of defence, Richard Lepori.
Lepori has recently been on international duty with Italy, for whom he scored three tries against Germany, but he returned for Oldham in the 44-24 win over Skolars in which he scored his second hat-trick in nine days.
Naylor said: “To go to London without Tom Whitehead was a tough decision, but as ‘Lippy’ (Lepori) missed the Crusaders game because he had been honoured by Italy it was no reason to keep him out of the side in London.
“I did consider including Whitehead in the 17 and perhaps giving him a run at half-back, but that would have put him under enormous pressure in a key position in what we knew would be one of our most demanding games of the season.”