Brian Barry-Murphy says there is a lot to be positive and confident about ahead of Good Friday’s game against Wycombe Wanderers.
Dale return to the Crown Oil Arena for their penultimate home match in Sky Bet League One, a game Barry-Murphy says the players are ready for.
“The reaction to the Portsmouth defeat has been fantastic,” said the Dale boss.
“It’s a shortened week so a slightly quicker turnaround. The guys have been in great form and we’ve got a fully fit squad.
“The effort and the application of the players has been incredible, and they’re prepared fantastically well for what is going to be a very exciting two games.
“The first of those two games against Wycombe is the critical one, our priority, and we’re ready for that.
“We’re under no illusions about how hard a game it’s going to be. We were well beaten by them in the corresponding fixture down there and had no excuses.
“It’s a huge challenge for us and one we’re well aware of, but we’re in a different moment ourselves, playing some really good football.”
Since taking charge of the team, Barry-Murphy has picked up seven points at the Crown Oil Arena, with just one late defeat the hands of automatic promotion hopefuls Sunderland.
He is confident that the players will put on another performance that the supporters can be proud of.
“Our home performances have been exceptional, so there’s a lot of things to be positive and confident about.
“We’re very confident of putting on a performance that will excite our supporters again and give them something to shout about.
“In my time at the Club it’s always been a place that we’ve really enjoyed playing. As I’ve said, there’s been a great understanding from the supporters of what we’re always trying to do.
“Even in tough periods over the last few years we’ve always looked forward to playing at home. As a player myself at bigger Clubs, I sensed periods of the season where I didn’t always enjoy playing at home because of the circumstances.
“But our Club has always been synonymous with having a great home atmosphere and a feel-good factor about who we are.
“I sensed in the block of games that we’ve played, that we’ve had that appreciation of what we’re trying to do.
“There is going to be tough times on Friday and in the next home game, but if the supporters can be as patient as they have been in the previous games then I’m very confident that the lads will give them something to be proud of.”
With two games in four days over the Easter weekend admits he may have to make some changes to his side, and is confident that players who come into the team can have the right impact.
“Because of the high level of performances, I haven’t been able to get the players in who haven’t been playing, so it’s been a frustrating time for them, but they’ve reacted in the exact way that I want.
“They’ve been pushing the players that are playing, probably harder than they have done at any stage in the season, so the challenge for myself is try and get a balanced team, which we haven’t had, due to results over the season.
“I’ve been conscious of trying to get some continuity, whilst maintaining the competition, and giving the players around the team a realistic chance of playing, and I’m very confident I can make the right decision at the right time.
“In my previous role, my job was to always get the guys who weren’t in the squad to the maximum of their abilities so that they were ready to go in whenever the manager needed them.
“Now I’m on the other side – I’ve got them to where they needed to be and I’ve got to use them when I think it’s right for the team.
“I’ve been very honest in my appraisal of the guys about how I have assessed every game on its merits, and tried to give some sort of continuity to the squad, whilst appreciating that the guys who aren’t in the team have a realistic chance of playing at any given moment.
“I fully believe over the next four games that any player who is in our group, which is a large group at the moment, can have a defining moment in the season.
“This time last year, Joe Thompson wasn’t really in the mix and he was incredible the way he supported the group and conducted himself, and he had the defining moment of the season.
“That will stick with me for a long time and it’s a reminder to the players how important every member of the squad is, even if they don’t feel it at times.”
The Dale boss also gave an update on the fitness of Kgosi Ntlhe, who missed last week’s defeat at Portsmouth, and on-loan Huddersfield Town forward Rekeil Pyke.
“Kgosi’s fine. He would quite happily have played in that game for the Club, but it was my decision for him not to play and it was my responsibility.
“He’s reaped the benefits of that this week, he’s fresh and ready to go. Even though he was disappointed on the day, he was okay with it. I’m very comfortable in making those decisions for the good of the team.
“Rekeil has come back from Huddersfield this week. He’s had a couple of days training with them and with us. I’m just mindful of how long he has been out. He’s an extremely explosive player with exceptional physical capabilities and football abilities.
“He’s available, I’m just not sure how ready he is for this game, but he’ll definitely come for the fore over the next few days, leading into Monday and next week.”
You can watch the full interview with Brian Barry-Murphy on iFollow HERE.