Dale manager Hill confident of extending six match unbeaten run

Date published: 31 December 2007

Rochdale go into what manager Keith Hill has called a "massive game" against Darlington on New Year's Day on the back of a six match unbeaten run. A win against a team considered at the start of the season as promotion candidates and potential winners of the division would keep Dale in touch with the promotion play off places, with games in hand on those currently occupying the places.

Injuries have taken their toll, Marcus Holness is struggling with his back, Lee McEvilly limped away from Macclesfield with an achilles injury, Kallum Higginbotham is also really struggling and Tom Kennedy and Rory Prendergast are both ill.

Hill said of the problem: "I think that we are going to have to ring Chris Beech to get one or two of his Youth team lads back off their holidays.

"It is not a laughing matter to be honest because we are expected to compete against every team that we play regardless of whether they are top middle or bottom. When you look at the riches of Darlington compared to ours it is a mismatch but we have got lots of energy, effort and quality."

Darlington manager Dave Penney hopes to have captain Steve Foster back in his side.

The centre-back missed Saturday's demoralising 1-0 defeat to MK Dons through illness but Penney is hopeful he will be fit enough to take his place alongside Alan White.

Penney singled out striker Pawel Abbott for criticism after he missed several good chances against MK Dons.

That could open the door for Gregg Blundell to earn a recall in his place while midfielder Ricky Ravenhill will also be hoping for a recall after having to settle for a place on the bench since returning from suspension.

A win could lift Darlington back into the automatic promotion places, however, Dale manager Hill is confident: "We go into the game high in spirits because to pick up ten points from four away games is a big ask and a great performance. We are unbeaten now in six and we are on a good roll before what is a massive game, and as ever we will be preparing for it in a positive manner."

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