Brian Barry-Murphy is excited to return to action at the Crown Oil Arena, as Dale host Bristol Rovers in Sky Bet League One.
His side have won their last two home games – against Accrington Stanley and MK Dons – and are looking to extend that to three on the bounce.
However, Barry-Murphy expects a tough test from a side currently sat 10thin the table.
He said: “It was a tough day at Oxford, for a number of reasons, but the last two games at home have been very different performances in some respects, but very similar in some of the qualities we displayed.
“We can’t wait to go back on Saturday and really have a good go against Bristol Rovers and see how we get on.
“There was a collective feel from everybody – supporters, staff and players – that against Accrington it was a testing game and we almost thought that we were lucky in terms of the result.
“But I never felt that. I felt as if Accrington had every reason to feel as if they should have got a result, but we found a way to win and we defended resolutely and did everything we needed to to win the game.
“Against MK Dons, we reaped the rewards and turned on the style in a lot of aspects and could have scored a lot of goals.
“We provided them with an exceptional test, and that’s an element of this league that has been apparent this season, that certain teams who are perceived as being lesser opponents, put up a very difficult challenge in every game.
“That will be the same going into this game against a team who are very, very strong in every part of the team.”
Rekeil Pyke’s return to the bench at Oxford was a positive development for Barry-Murphy’s side, in a season plagued by early injuries.
The return of Matty Done and Eoghan O’Connell has helped alleviate fitness concerns, with the duo now raring fit ahead of a tricky run of fixtures.
Barry-Murphy gave an honest, extended development on Dale’s current situation with injuries.
“Rekeil has come back looking in great shape, and he’s had a stop-start season in terms of being able to put a run of games together, after putting so much work into pre-season,” added the Dale gaffer.
“It would have been easy for him to get frustrated at that, and not apply himself in the manner he does.
“He’s fit and raring to go, and it’s just a case of building up his fitness and getting him that match action that a guy of his size needs.
“He’s a huge asset to us and somebody that we really appreciate being in our squad.
“Robert Sánchez is making great progress. He’s come back into our environment towards the end of the week.
“I have a feeling that Saturday is just going to be too soon for him, and we’re sticking to our mantra, like not rushing Ian [Henderson] last Saturday, or not rushing any of our players.
“The only one I’ve been guilty of rushing really is Matty Done for the Accrington game, simply because Rhys Norrington-Davies was away on international duty.
“We’re just looking at the best interests of the player really, and it’s indicative that Matty has had to build-up his fitness since then and he’s starting to come back into peak shape after being rushed back by myself, which I had a sense of guilt over, because rushing him back has hindered his own fitness.
“But now he’s come through that, he’s starting to look really good physically which is great for us all.
“In terms of the rest of the squad, Jim McNulty and Tyler Magloire are almost on the same timescale now, where they’re mirroring where each one is at. Again, they won’t be back for another four or five weeks, so we’re very grateful to have Paul McShane in this spell of the season whilst we wait for those two guys to come fit.
“We have Stephen Dooley who is continuing his rehab, and one of the benefits of the games coming thick and fast is that every weekend, we’re a week closer to having Stephen back!
“The timescale is getting close now where it will be three to four weeks that he could be back in competitive action.
“The only other player that is a concern to us at the moment is Ryan McLaughlin, who is making great progress and has been training, but with that type of heel injury, there are days when he can’t train and we’re continually building him up.
“He won’t be available for Saturday, but I am very hopeful that he’ll be available for the Wrexham game and I’ll have an eye on using him in that or using him in the game against Bradford City in the Leasing.com Trophy.
“He’s a player that we really value and that we’re excited to have back."