Apart from prop Mick Slicker, who will remain sidelined for the next 10 weeks with a fractured eye socket, Smith has a full-strength squad at his disposal.

With scrum half Mark Moxon having been given the all-clear following a fractured eye socket and Australian prop Heath Cruckshank back on the scene, the Giants supremo is faced with the tough task of whittling down a squad of 21 to 17.

That's not going to be easy given the form the majority of his players have been showing.

But this is usually the occupational hazard of a head coach whose side are going well in the competition. Injuries always seem to be at a minimum in a winning side!

And this positive state of affairs would appear to be in stark contrast to opponents Oldham.

Reports coming out of the camp of last season's Grand Finalists would suggest that coach John Harbin is struggling to secure the services of 17 senior players.

There would appear to be no suitable replacement for experienced Kiwi back-rower Bryan Henare, who picked up a one-match ban for tripping during the 54-2 win over Gateshead in their last League outing.

However, Henare is the only absentee from the side that destroyed struggling Thunder two weeks ago, and whatever side takes to the field they will clearly be very competitive.

That is definitely the view of Smith, who is expecting one of the most physical battles of the campaign.

"I've heard they are struggling for bodies, but that's something I intend to ignore," he said.

"They will be very tough competitors and will include many players who were part of their Grand Final line-up last year.

"They have as big a front row as you are likely to see, and that alone makes them a threat.

"Every team is also raising their game against us. That, too, will be in Oldham's favour.

"If we take too much notice of the tales of woe coming out of the Oldham camp we could find ourselves in trouble.

"Like every team in the competition, they deserve our utmost respect."

The biggest problem for Smith, however, is clearly that concerning team selection.

For a start, the prospect of re-uniting the fit-again Moxon and Chris Thorman at half-back and switching Stanley Gene to centre is a mouth-watering option.

While in the pack, there's the dilemma of where to play experienced new arrival Cruckshank, who played in St Helens' final 15 games of last season.

The only barrier to Cruckshank's return would appear to be jet lag, which has caused him to suffer slight flu-like symptoms.

Yet there is still time for the tough pack man to claim a spot.

"Nothing can be discounted at this stage," added Smith.

"I've obviously got some very important choices to make before the side is finalised.

"I was pleased with the way the side performed at Swinton Lions, but I've now got to add Mark Moxon, Heath Cruckshank, Paul March and Rob Roberts to the 17 that played that day.

"No-one has let me down this season, and one of the key decisions to make is whether I should keep faith with those that have done such a good job so far this year or re-shuffle the side.

"Yes, it's a big problem, but it's the sort of problem that a coach wants.

"But whoever plays this weekend knows only too well that they can't afford to let their standards slip. Those who miss out will be waiting to take over."


Huddersfield Giants: Reilly, O'Hare, Cooper, Hallas, Crabtree, Whittaker, Langley, Gene, Thorman, Moxon, Wittenberg, March, Turner, Walker, Molyneux, Cruckshank, Roberts, Hayes, Atkins, McNamara, Rice.

Oldham: Sibson, Cowell, Braddish, Goddard, McNicholas, Roden, Gibbons (D), Gibbons (A), Clegg, Hough, Norton, Proctor, Doran, Farrell, Brennan, Barber, Guest.

Referee: P Taberner (Wigan).