Rochdale are without a League One win since Boxing Day, in that time they have played 4 league games, conceded 15 goals and scored only once. Tomorrow represents a big opportunity at Spotland to stop the rot against an indifferent Fleetwood side, who themselves haven’t won since Boxing Day.
In this article, I will assess Rochdale’s options at the back, and highlight what would be my chosen defence to try and come away with the 3 points.
Goalkeeper: Josh Lillis/Magnus Norman/Brad Wade
One of Dales biggest problems this season with regular goalkeeping mistakes and rotation but for me out of the options available there is only one option and that is Josh Lillis. I feel he is comfortably number 1, as a backup Magnus Norman has struggled when given the jersey and shown very little to suggest he is a better option between the sticks.
Right Back: Joe Rafferty/Luke Matheson
Again a fairly obvious choice for me with Joe Rafferty, although Luke has been impressive in his cameos – I don’t feel at this stage of his development he is ready to jump into a first team spot in a league match. Joe has also been one of Rochdale’s better players at times this season, and for the style of play, Keith Hill likes, he is a must down that right-hand side.
Centre Backs: Jimmy McNulty/Ryan Delaney/Ethan Ebanks-Landell/MJ Williams
Going with 2 centre backs here my first choice has to be the new loan signing Ethan Ebanks-Landell, he made his debut as a second-half sub against Peterborough last weekend and I feel he has to start against Fleetwood with the experience and quality he has. He could be a real asset in the second half of this season with his pace and power.
My second choice centre back to partner Ethan would be MJ Williams who although isn’t a natural centre back, has found himself playing there regularly this season. I just feel although his defensive instincts aren’t as sharp, he brings a level of composure and a range of passing which is important when playing out from the back as Dale try to do.
Left Backs: Matty Done/Kgosietsile Ntlhe
Left-back has been a problem position for Rochdale this season with rumours that its a position Hilly is looking to strengthen. So far this window Rochdale have been linked with several fullbacks, the latest being Colin Daniel from Peterborough. But for the Fleetwood match I would be struggling to choose who to start with Matty Done the most senior player in that position this season after Sam Harts departure, however, I feel Done’s strengths are better utilised further forward which leaves me with Ntlhe who hasn’t covered himself in glory when given the chance, but I think he would be the man for me against Fleetwood.
This is the defence I would play if I was Keith Hill, but I will be eagerly awaiting the team sheet at around 2pm to see what he has gone with.