Stephen Dooley believes his fitness is back to where it was before he picked up an injury in Dale’s Emirates FA Cup tie against Portsmouth in December.
The 27-year-old has started every game since returning to the squad earlier this month following four weeks on the sidelines.
“It was a shame. I was in the team for a good bit and then I picked up a knock in the Portsmouth game in the FA Cup, and it put me out for a little bit,” said Dooley.
“It feels good to be back out there and I feel like my fitness is back to where it was.”
Dale put in an encouraging performance at Barnsley on Saturday, and Dooley was disappointed that the side didn’t take anything from the game.
“Coming away to Barnsley, who are one of the best, if not thee best in the league, we knew that it was going to be incredibly difficult. I thought we did well in the first half and then to score early in the second half, we’re bitterly disappointed not to come away with anything in the end.
“We put a lot into the game, because that’s the only way you can get anything in this league, but we gave 100% today and we still didn’t get anything.
“There were two bits of quality from them – a great strike for their first goal and then the game is in the balance, and then they managed to come away with it, which is a sign of a good team.
“It’s a shame because we’re down at the bottom end of the table and that’s just the way things have been going. We have a goal mouth scramble right at the end and on another day it goes in, but at the moment it’s just not going for us.”
And Dooley was full of praise for his skipper Ian Henderson, who netted his 16th goal of the season in the match.
“There was a bit of eye contact from Jimmy [McNulty] and a bit of movement from Hendo and then he does what Hendo does, like he has done all season. One touch and a great finish, and it’s a real shame we couldn’t build on that.
“Hendo been brilliant, putting in performance, after performance all year and he has been keeping us going with the goals that he has been scoring. We’re going to need him and a few more to chip in if we’re going to end the season positively.”
With 16 games left to play this season, he knows how important the need to pick up points is.
“We’ve got to start winning games. Everyone is bought into trying to turn this around. It’s going to be a hard end to the season but we can definitely do it.
“We had a bad spell after we won back-to-back games over Christmas. We had looked to kick on after those victories but it didn’t happen and for whatever reason we conceded a lot of goals.
“But the fight is definitely there and we’re not going down without a fight. We’ve got 16 games left and we’re going to have to go and bring more intensity and more quality into those games if we’re going to stay up.”
Watch the full interview.