Batley Bulldogs will aim to end a four-match losing run in the Kingstone Press Championship when they take on Oldham in a key fixture this Sunday (kick off 3pm).
The match has been switched to the Manchester Regional Arena, part of the Etihad Stadium complex, which should suit Batley’s expansive style of play compared to the tight and compact venue of Oldham’s usual ground at Stalybridge Celtic.
Batley are boosted after scrum-half Dominic Brambani was cleared to play having been found not guilty of stamping in the recent game with Hull KR.
However, the Bulldogs are likely to be without fellow half-back Tom Holmes, who has forced his way into the Castleford Tigers squad following a recall from his loan spell at Batley.
Holmes started for the Tigers in last week’s emphatic 53-10 Challenge Cup win over St Helens and Daryl Powell has included him in Castleford’s 19-man squad for this weekend’s derby clash against Leeds Rhinos which forms part of the Magic Weekend in Newcastle.
With Rangi Chase departing the Tigers this week to join Widnes Vikings on loan until the end of the season, Holmes could be handed an extended run in Castleford’s first team.
Batley have not won since a dramatic late fight back saw them defeat Rochdale Hornets 38-36 on April 9 and find themselves back in seventh place, eight points outside the top four.
Oldham lie just a point behind the Bulldogs and victory for the Roughyeds on Sunday would lift them to their highest position since winning promotion back to the Championship a year and a half ago.
Oldham coach Scott Naylor gave his squad a week off as they were not involved in last weekend’s Challenge Cup sixth round and he reported them returning refreshed and refocused.
Batley were also without a fixture last weekend and Bulldogs coach Matt Diskin will be hoping they return to action ready to turn their form around.
Diskin admitted there were some positive signs despite Batley slipping to a 68-4 defeat at home to league leaders Hull KR a fortnight ago but knows they need to start picking up wins if they are to put pressure on the top four.
Batley follow up Sunday’s game against mid-table rivals Oldham with the Summer Bash derby against Dewsbury in Blackpool next week, before returning to Mount Pleasant to face Toulouse Olympique on June 4.