Manager Robbie Stockdale reflects on the week and looks ahead to Dale’s Sky Bet League Two fixture against Tranmere Rovers at the Crown Oil Arena…
It will have been a week since the side’s last league fixture - the win over Port Vale - after free midweek for the majority of the players, however some were involved in Central League Cup action against Burnley on Tuesday.
“It [the no midweek game] has given us a chance to maybe ease the load on some of the players. We’ve obviously still got the work into them but we can control the amount [of time] that we’re on the training pitch as opposed to them playing 90 minutes on a Tuesday.
“On top of that, we had a game that some of the players who needed minutes played in at Burnley on Tuesday, so in terms of that, everybody has had what they need to be ready for a tough game on Saturday.”
Dale conceded two late goals at the Barnfield Training Centre as the Clarets came from behind to win the tie but the Gaffer says the players didn’t deserve to the lose the match.
“I thought we played well. It was so hot and the game was played in stifling heat but the players acquitted themselves really well in it.
“It was disappointing to lose the two goals right at the end - they didn’t deserve that, without a doubt, but it was a really good learning curve for the players on the pitch.
“We had a lot of scholars and mixed with a little bit of the senior players. It’s always difficult when you throw players together and expect them to gel, but I think you can see what we’re trying to do as a club filtering through the teams and I was generally pretty pleased with it.”
On Saturday’s game against Rovers, Stockdale is expecting a tough afternoon.
“They are similar to us in terms of points. They’ve conceded two and scored two so they’re going to be very difficult to break down because they are defensively sound.
“Micky [Mellon] is a very experienced manager and someone who I have got a lot of respect for and a lot of time for. It’s his second spell there so he’ll be looking to get success.
“But we feel that we’re in a good moment - we’re building a bit of momentum. I don’t see any signs of complacency - the players are still working ever so hard and we’re demanding of them. We want to get three points, that’s obvious, but we’re going to have to work hard to get them.”
Jerial Dorsett missed the win over the Valiants through injury and the boss says he is now back in training.
“Jeriel trained today (Thursday) so we’ll see if he’s had any reaction to that. He’s been working with the sports science boys and the physios for the last week. Sam Graham is close to a return to training fully but Saturday probably comes a little bit too soon for him.
“We should probably be not too far off having a full squad to pick from which is brilliant for me. It gives me sleepless night and a massive headache but in a good way.
“Again, I sound like a broken record, but we will need [all of] them. Saturday/ Tuesday games are going to come thick and fast and everyone is going to play their part, so to have everybody on the training pitch is great.
“It gives us competition for places and it makes the players in the team raise their standards because they know there’s some really good players battling to get in. That makes it tricky for me to pick the right team, the rights subs, the right squad, but that’s best way for me to see it. I want those problems and I want the players to give me a difficult decision and so far they are.’
Watch the Gaffer’s pre-match interview in full on the club’s YouTube channel.