Dale make the trip to Brunton Park on Saturday to face Carlisle United in the second round of the FA Cup.
It’s the first game in eight days for Rochdale, with a Checkatrade Trophy tie against Chesterfield to look forward to on Tuesday, before league leaders Scunthorpe United come calling next weekend.
Speaking ahead of the tie, Manager Keith Hill says it’s a great week for the club.
“I think Saturday is going to be a good game on a good football pitch, and we’re really looking forward to it,” said Hill.
“It’s brilliant going into a cup week when we’ve got Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday games, and it gives us something different to focus on. It’s a great week to look forward to and the burden of expectation shouldn’t weight too heavy. We’ve got to embrace it and it’s something that we’ve built. We’re looking forward to all of the fixtures but we’ve got to take them in isolation, one game at a time.
“We’re taking every game seriously. Every game is an opportunity for us, whether it’s the FA Cup, the Checkatrade Trophy or in the league. They’re important games for me as a manager, the players, the football club and the supporters.”
Dale face an in-form Carlisle United side who currently sit top of the Sky Bet League Two table, having scored an impressive 37 goals so far this season.
Hill believes the Cumbrians are promotion contenders.
“I think they’re an excellent side to watch. They’re scoring a lot of goals, they’re top of the league and I think, looking at it from the outside in, the structure of the club looks very stable. They’ve been building under Keith Curle and they’ve got some very, very experienced players. I think they’re in good shape to get promoted.”
Former Rochdale players Jason Kennedy and Nicky Adams are regular starters for Saturday’s opponents, with Kennedy in a rich vein of goal scoring form.
“For me, Jason can play in a number of positions in midfield. It looks like he’s playing the perfect 10 at this moment in time. He’s someone who has shared in our memories of promotion and I have/ had a close relationship with him. We’ll continue to have that, because the moments that we’ve been through have been special. I’ve got a lot of respect for Jason and Nicky. They did a great service for Rochdale Football Club and it’s great to see them being successful again.”
Dale head into the game in positive form, after a November which saw Keith Hill’s side rise to fifth in the League One table and reach the 30-point mark.
Hill is pleased with what has been achieved so far this season.
“This group is doing tremendously well. The best points total we’ve had after 23 games in League One, since I’ve been at the club, is 32 points and that was in the 2010-11.
“We’ve got three games to beat that and if even if we don’t beat that then there are still positives. One thing we always think about and suggest from a psychological and positivity point of view is that you have to reach 30 points as a minimum from 23 games. If you do that, it has broken the back of the minimum points requirement that you need for the whole season. So with 30 points from 20 games played, I’m really, really pleased. What I will say is, over the last 19 games in all competitions, we’ve only been beaten four times.”
The full interview is on Dale PlayerHD.