Rochdale finds themselves down in 17th in League One after only managing to collect 23 points in their first 20 games so far, and Keith Hill has made plenty of changes to his team this season.
However, in my opinion, these two players must start tomorrow for Rochdale to have the best possible chance of coming away from Kingsmeadow with all three points.
To anyone who has followed Rochdale or even just followed League One this season, this doesn’t need to be said. The Rochdale captain is joint top scorer in the league this season with 12 goals and Rochdale’s reliance on his goals this season is there for all to see.
Without them, they would find themselves 12 points worse off, which would see them rock bottom of the league.
It’s not often you see a player be top scorer in the league with his team in the bottom half of the table, especially being closer to the relegation zone than the playoffs. Furthermore, this shows a lot of their problems are defensive problems and not attacking. He is indispensable to this team and any game he doesn’t start the team is significantly weaker in.
I imagine this choice will be a popular choice with many Dale fans as his name has been mentioned many a time on the terraces at Spotland this season. With many fans questioning why he hasn’t been involved more.
A recent injury explains why he hasn’t played of late but even before that he has struggled to establish himself in the side this season, many find this strange given some of the performances he put in towards the back end of last season. I simply feel Rochdale are a better side with him in the team.
He came off the bench last weekend in the FA Cup 2nd Round match vs Portsmouth which suggests he is fit and ready to play, and the performance was much improved after his introduction. The dilemma is sometimes where to play him as he is carving out a name for himself as a very versatile performer, he has regularly filled in across the defence, but I think he believes his best position is in midfield and it’s hard to argue against that.
Keith Hill must be taking his performance last weekend into account and it will be giving him a selection headache as he has a lot of good options in the centre of midfield. I believe he should start against Wimbledon as he brings a steely determination, an abundance of enthusiasm and all the battling qualities required in these bottom half of the table clashes, players like him can sometimes make all the difference.