Manage Brian Barry-Murphy reflects on the festive period and looks ahead to Dale’s League One fixture against Crewe Alexandra on Saturday, his side’s first game of the New Year…
Rochdale’s three games over the Christmas period had to be suspended to allow players and staff to self-isolate in line with Government advice, after being affected by Covid in the squad.
“The severity of the situation has hit home over the last couple of weeks, because before that we had been Covid free,” said BBM.
“The severity of it and the increase of it in society has led to us having our first contacts of it, and, as such, everyone’s awareness of the possible consequences has come to the forefront of our minds.
“It’s not until you see it happen to one of your own guys that you really understand what it can do to people and the knock on effects it could have on people’s families, and that was a huge area of concern to us over the Christmas period. I’m glad we’re over that period, but definitely still worried about the effects on the families of the players.”
The EFL have announced this week that, thanks to the PFA, players in the EFL will now be tested twice-weekly, something BBM is thankful for.
“The awareness and the severity of coronavirus has been heightened by the numbers both in the Premier League and in the EFL, and the news that the PFA have come to fore and are going to be helping out with the twice-weekly testing has provided real reassurance to the players.
“They are starting to get concerned. Not about themselves - the players are pretty robust in terms of not worrying about themselves - but the general concern is about bringing it back to parents or families.
“We have an number of players whose families are in the vulnerable category and that anxiety is prevalent in a lot of the squad, so to have that reassurance of being tested twice a week through the PFA in tandem with the EFL is important to have that at this moment.”
Dale welcome Crewe Alex to the Crown Oil Arena this Saturday, in the rearranged fixture from December 29th. BBM is pleased that the game was able to be scheduled in at short notice.
“I’m just really happy to get back into action. This game wasn’t originally pencilled in but it obviously suits both clubs to get this game on, on a Saturday and to get us rolling again before travelling down to Charlton on Tuesday night.
“It’s nice to start with a home game. We’re aware that we want to improve our home form and put performances in that we’ve shown more of on the road. It has been evident that our results at home haven’t been as good as away, so we’re keen to put performances that is similar to what we’ve been doing away from home.”
In terms of injury and illness, the Boss has provided the following update.
“We’ve no major issues in terms of illness now, so we’re pretty clear there, and players are now further down the line in terms of their recovery from injury so we should have more players available tomorrow. We’re very much looking forward to having a much stronger squad to choose from for this game and going forward.
“It has been clear to us that when we’ve had a fully fit squad our performances have been of a very high level and when we haven’t it has been difficult, but that’s the same for everyone and there are loads of teams with multiple players missing. But it gives us a big boost to have the likes of Ollie Rathbone and Paul McShane come back into the fray. Our squad generally thrives off that and it makes everybody feel better about the games coming up.”
Watch the full interview on iFollow.