Weird being a Saddler, isn’t it? After a disappointing season so far, the team turn out a performance as good as the one against Wednesday on Boxing Day. It would make you wonder what the heck were going on – if there wasn’t an explanation for it. As I said before the Chesterfield game, we will be better away from home or against the good teams, purely because the game will be more open. We just dont have the creativity in the side to break down defences of poor sides back on our home turf. Unfortunately, of course, it is creativity that is the most expensive thing to aquire.
Dean Smith has no new injury or suspension concerns ahead of the visit of second-bottom Rochdale.
Claude Gnakpa stepped off the bench to bag an injury-time equaliser and the Frenchman may have played himself into contention for a starting berth against managerless Dale, although Smith will be reluctant to make too many changes to his starting eleven.
Manny Smith passed a fitness test to face the high-flying Owls and, having netted the late winner, will again start at the heart of defence alongside skipper Andy Butler.
Olly Lancashire (hamstring) misses out again while fit-again midfielder Kevan Hurst (probably our most creative player) is closing in on his return from a broken bone in his heel but may need more match practice before being considered.
Meanwhile, over at our opponents, Chris Beech, the new caretaker manager, will be making his debut in the job, as their last game, at Tranmere, was postponed, when the stands at Prenton Park started to blow down.
Captain Gary Jones should return from injury for the visitors, but midfielders Joe Thompson (thigh) and Simon Hackney (abdominal) are long-term absentees, alongside defensive duo Marc Twaddle (back) and Pim Balkestein (groin).
Goalkeeper David Lucas will be assessed ahead of the contest having having suffered a head injury in the defeat to Sheffield United earlier this month.
Rochdale have won 2, drawn 1 and lost 7 of their 10 away games this season, so we ought to be favourites – mind you, we’ve only won 3 at home! We ought to have enough to win, however, especially if they make the mistake of trying to play football!