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Keith Hill's Pre Match Interview: Walsall

31 December 2015

Rochdale are back on the road again this Saturday as they start 2016 with a trip to league leaders Walsall.

Dale head into the match after ending the year with the 1-1 draw away at Scunthorpe United on Monday. 

And as he looked ahead to the weekend’s game at the Banks’s Stadium, Manager Keith Hill told Dale PlayerHD that he is pleased with his side’s performance against the Iron.

“It was a fantastic point.

“I think it was a very good performance which was full of energy, commitment and endeavour, and we had the lion’s share of opportunities and possession. 

“I was a little bit afraid that we could have had a negative bounce after the Boxing Day postponement but we planned the three days that we had really well. We got a good product on display and a very good performance, which I was really pleased about.”

Saturday’s opponents Walsall currently sit joint top of League One and have recently appointed Sean O’Driscoll as Manager after Dean Smith left to take the reigns at Championship side Brentford.

Hill has spoken highly about the Saddlers.

“When Deano [Dean Smith] took over he went 16 games without a win but the Chairman gave him a new contract because he believed in what he was doing. 

“I think if you look closely at their progress they’ve dipped in and out of the relegation zone, up to about 8th place finish and then dipped down to around 10th or 12th last season. But they’ve had that continuity and stability and there’s a great football club at work.

“I think the appointment of Sean O’Driscoll makes superb sense when I’m looking as a manager from the outside in. I think it was a bright appointment and I think it’s one that will stabilise the football club’s fortunes as the season progresses.

“On Saturday we’ve got to go there with a game plan, an intensity and we’ve got to go there with no fear, which we will.”

Hill’s injury woes are easing heading into the New Year with Jamie Allen, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Reuben Noble-Lazarus the latest players to return from injury, and he admits he’s pleased to have them back involved.

“Nathaniel reminds me of a girl who is sat at the end of a bar and you think, wow, have you seen her over there. Then I remember I’m married for 24 years. 

“He don’t half tease you up, Nathaniel. He’s got everything. Sometimes you’ve got to be careful that the tease doesn’t lead you to temptation. I just want him fit, I want him on that football pitch and I want him to play happy. As soon as you put him on the pitch the opposition go, oh no, not Nathaniel.

“We’re very fortunate because I think I’ve got maverick, flamboyant players in the squad. And we forget about Reuben – I really think we’ve missed Reuben.

“And Donal McDermott, he’s also flamboyant. He doesn’t always get it right but he puts everything into everything he does. He can be marvellous and drive you mad at the same time. 

“I’m really pleased with the depth of the squad and the quality that we’ve got. The players have got to put it altogether now – they know how we do business. 

“It’s about the players grabbing themselves in the vital areas of their body and saying, I’m a man - let’s do it.”

The full 20 minute interview is on Dale PlayerHD. 

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