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Keith Hill's Pre Match Interview - Barnsley

22 January 2016

After last weekend’s postponement, Rochdale will return to action on Saturday as they make the trip to South Yorkshire to face Barnsley at Oakwell.

With no fixture due to the call-off, Manager Keith Hill arranged a closed doors game against Preston North End midweek and has told Dale PlayerHD that is was a worthwhile workout.

“We had a game at Preston on Tuesday where most of the players who haven’t played on a regular basis played. One or two of the players were blowing, especially, like I said, the players who haven’t played, so it was a very good workout.

“David Syers [who signed a short-term deal on Monday] played as well. He completed 70 minutes so it was a good workout. 

“And it’s always good going over to Preston. We’ve had a good couple of days and it’s obviously in preparation for Saturday.”
When asked how far away Syers is from being included in the matchday squad, Hill commented: “He’ll be closer than he thinks. 

“He’s got a good brain and that was evident on Tuesday. It has been evident since he's been here and I knew that he had a good footballing brain. 

“He had been out of the game a long time through injury but it’s like riding a bike or driving a car with a gear stick rather an automatic, you never forget, and he’s certainly not forgotten how to play the brain game, that’s one thing I do know. 

“Physically he’s probably found it a little bit harder because we do train competitively, we’ve got an intensity to the way that we train and he’s definitely getting there. He’s come in to make an impact, but he has got to make the biggest impact. I don’t give too many charitable gifts out when it comes to giving players appearances so it’s up to him to be as challenging as I expect him to be and he will be.”

Saturday’s opponents have lost just one of their last five league games, seeing them move out of the relegation places and up to 17th in the League One table.

“It’ll be a difficult encounter, very difficult. 

“They’re a good squad and a young squad. Sometimes they’ve been a bit green over the course of the season but everybody has stuck together and I think when that happens it helps players. Players want a little bit of continuity. 

“Stability can only be built by a club’s intentions and the retaining of a manager. And what we’ve seen at Barnsley is an unbelievable change in form and I think that has come out of strength, I think it has come out of solidarity and I think it has come out of good leadership from top to bottom at the club.

"And I think bravo to everyone at Barnsley for making sure that they give what they consider to be one of the best managers in League One a continued chance to turn things around, and I think that’s what he [Lee Johnson] is doing. I think that’s what should be done on most watches within football.”

Ashley Eastham returned to training this week after recovering from a calf problem meaning the Gaffer has a fully fit squad to choose from the match.

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