DESPITE the heavy defeat at Featherstone and his own problems with hamstring trouble, centre Cam Leeming is upbeat and optimistic about how Oldham will fare in the Betfred Championship this season.

He would love to be available for selection for the first round Betfred Challenge Cup tie against Barrow Raiders at Bower Fold on Saturday week, March 20 (kick-off 12.45pm), but coach Matt Diskin is anxious not to bring him in too soon.

Hamstrings can be problematical and Diskin believes he needs another two or three weeks of intense training in order to prove his fitness.

“We’ve got to do what’s best for both Cam and the team,” said the Oldham boss as he prepared his squad for this Saturday’s warm-up clash with Halifax Panthers (4pm), which fans can watch live on Our League with the game to be played behind closed doors.

A more realistic target for Leeming to return would be the opening game in the Championship against Swinton Lions at home on Good Friday, April 2.

In the meantime, he’ll be working his socks off in a bid to get back sooner than that.

He said: “I had a little setback last week. I can’t wait to get back playing again, it’s been a long time between matches, but to be honest I’ve had a frustrating pre-season because of injuries. I’ve not yet been able to get myself going again.

“If I’m honest, I’d take getting back into training properly at this stage.

“Even though I knew I wouldn’t be playing at Featherstone, I got a real buzz in the days leading up to the game.

“Watching it, I felt there was a lot I could offer to help the team on the edges and that made me keen to play even more.

“Despite the score, I liked the new boys we brought in and that made me quite optimistic. I thought the middles showed some good stuff and I was really impressed with James Barran, who showed plenty of nice touches.”

A personal trainer with his own business in Leeds, Leeming has been able to use weights at home, but he described as a challenge the restrictions and protocol surrounding Covid training.

He added: “I’ve just enjoyed seeing all the players and staff again after so long away.

“I’m fortunate that I’ve got some weights to have a play around with at home but, with no gyms open, I know some lads have struggled regarding that side of the game. “