A chance to get out of the bottom four presents itself tomorrow, with a game against play off chasing Rochdale. The team will certainly want to get last week’s defeat at Colchester out of their systems and get back on the good run which had seen confidence rise so much.
Of course, expectations have now been raised, with the team just one point from safety, so it was good to see the squad further strengthened this week with the acquisition of Argentinian midfielder Emmanuel Ladesma.
The 22 year old midfielder started his career with Italian side Genoa before joining QPR on a season-long loan in 2008/09. Ledesma made 23 outings at Loftus Road but a permanent switch was not agreed (mainly because Genoa wanted some £2 million for him at the time) and he returned to Genoa before enjoying further loan spells with the likes of Salemitana, Novara Calcio and FC Crotone.
He was released by the Italian outfit last month and, amid interest elsewhere, arrived at the Banks’s Stadium on trial two weeks ago having initially been looked at by Brighton. Should the international clearance be obtained, Ledesma could make his debut in Saturday’s game.
Dean Smith said: “Emmanuel has great technical ability. He is good with both feet, can score goals and will certainly give us something different. We spotted him playing for Brighton reserves and nipped in to bring him here. He has fitted in extremely well and things have developed from there. The lad can certainly do a job for us and this is an exciting signing for the club.”
Wel will be forced to make at least one change for the match following Matt Gill`s return to Norwich. Dean Smith has a decision to make as to who fills the void, with Richard Taundry favourite to move inside from the right and lex Nicholls revert back out wide, or Ladesma come in there, if cleared to play in time
Fit-again Jason Price, who returned to the bench against Colchester after a sore Achilles, should come in to take his place alongside Jon Macken in attack.
Darren Byfield has resumed full training after five months out with a knee injury, although this weekend is likely to come too soon for the captain. Next Saturday`s trip to Swindon is a more realistic date for his involvement.
Rochdale manager Keith Hill has no major concerns ahead of the game.
Midfielder Brian Barry-Murphy sustained a cut above his eye in the recent home victory over Sheffield Wednesday and was replaced after just 11 minutes by Matty Done. He looks certain to be available but Done, who had a hand in both goals in a highly impressive performance, is pushing hard for a starting berth.
Rochdale are still harbouring play off hopes, but that looks unlikely when you take a close look at their record. At home, they’ve won won 6, drawn 6 (far too many) and lost 2, while away from home, they have the perfect mid table record of won 5, drawn 5, lost 5. If they are going to do anything this season, they would have to look at an away fixture at Walsall as one they have to take something from. The Saddlers are, however, already a much different proposition from the team that lost 2 – 3 to them away earlier in the season and I think we can win this one.