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Stephen Dooley On His New Contract

20 June 2021

Stephen Dooley says he is delighted to extend his stay at the Crown Oil Arena.

The 29-year-old put pen-to-paper on a new one-year contract with the club during the week.

It will be his fourth season with Dale, one he is hoping will be a success.

“I’m delighted that I’ve been asked to stay on for another year,” said Dooley.

“We want to try and get back to where we were and I want to kick on and have a much better season.

“It was a tough year last year with the relegation. It didn’t really feel like football without fans in the stadium and it was tough to take, especially coming close towards the end when we went on a good run.

“This year, we have such a good team with so many good players, I don’t see why we can’t be challenging near the top.

“I think the players know we have it within us. When you look around the changing room there are so many good players, when we get it right I think we can hopefully go on a bit of a run which we maybe haven’t done enough of.

“We want to string back-to-back runs together which were hard to come by, but that’s what we want to do this year and try to compete near the top rather than bottom.”

Dooley joined the club in 2018 and has made 93 appearances in his three seasons so far.

“It’s the longest I’ve spent at a club in a row. It’s flown by really. I’ve had to adjust and learn a lot in that period of time. It’s been up and down, but hopefully this year we can kick on a bit.

“I owe a lot to Brian and the staff. It’s great that I can have another chance to repay their faith in me. Last year, there were times when it was tough on a personal level, and a team level, so hopefully this year I can do a bit better, play some more and we can do better as a team.

“I think things were coming together towards the end of the season, but it was just too little too late.”

The Northern Irishman is also hoping the Dale supporters can return to attending matches to spur him and his teammates on.

“Everyone says football without fans is nothing, but it’s true.

“There were so many games that, even though they meant a lot, felt soulless because that’s not why you sign up to be a footballer, to play behind closed doors.

“This year, hopefully with the country reopening in July, by the time the season kicks off in August, we should be good to go with fans back. It’ll be so much better, whether there are cheers or boos, you want to be part of everything. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone back in the stadium a lot.”

The midfielder is now looking forward to returning for pre-season, as Dale prepare to start life in League Two on the 7th August.

“It will be good to get back and see everyone. I’ve never really had a problem with pre-season.

“It can be tough but if you can stay injury free it’s great. I’m sure Kev [Kevin Gibbins] will have everyone raring to go and in good shape.

“It can be a little daunting at the time on day one when you’re on the start mark of the bleep test! But it will be good to get going again.”

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