FOOTBALL managers do not usually have a rugby league international between New Zealand and Australia to thank for helping their squad get back to health.
But Phil Parkinson has had good cause this week to be glad that the World Cup final is taking place at Old Trafford later today.
As soon as the League One fixtures were published in the summer, the Latics-Bantams game was put back 24 hours to avoid a clash with the final.
The thought process was that with both Oldham and Bradford being strong rugby league areas, there could be a knock-on effect if England were to make the final.
Last week’s semi-final defeat to the Kiwis at Wembley ended those hopes but Parkinson is glad that his virus-hit squad have been given an additional 24 hours to prepare for tomorrow’s match.
The City chief said: “It has worked in our favour after the week we have had. The sickness bug has really affected the club badly, with some of the office staff being the latest to be suffering.
“We had to send three players (Nahki Wells, Kyel Reid and Alan Connell) home from training last Monday but that didn’t prevent it spreading to some of the others.
“James Hanson suffered really badly on Monday night, for instance, and didn’t really get much sleep. Despite that, he insisted on playing against Notts County on Tuesday and was unfortunate not to score.
“A few others have been hit and that is why we decided to close the training ground until Friday. If we had been playing Oldham on Saturday, that might not have been possible but thanks to the extra day we were able to do it.
“We are hoping the worst of it is over and that by the time we kick-off at Oldham, everyone will be clear of the bug.”
City were held to a 1-1 draw by Notts County on Tuesday night but remained in the top six. By the time they run out at Boundary Park, chances are they could have slipped out of the play-off places due to today being a full programme in the third tier.
Parkinson said: “Oldham have had some good results, lately. Winning at Wolves in the FA Cup was particularly impressive. As was their 5-1 win over Notts County.
“We were disappointed not to win on Tuesday ourselves but we can take heart from how we played in the second half.”