Glyn Hodges reported that his squad is in good shape, considering the circumstances, as Wimbledon prepare for a return to League One action.
Wimbledon's match at Rochdale will be the first since our Plough Lane return game on 3 November with members of the group having tested positive for Covid-19.
Speaking ahead of the trip up north, our manager said: "Everyone is fine. We’ve had two groups in this week, the players that were positive came in on Tuesday, and those that were negative were in yesterday. We are okay."
Glyn was pleased to hear that the EFL had given the green light to clubs being allowed to use five substitutes in league matches from this weekend.
“It doesn’t ease the burden, but it will definitely help. It’s something that I voted for and purely for selfish reasons, for this next run of games, so that we had as many bodies available as possible. It is what it is, and the show must go on after having the two weeks off. It’s a toss of a coin seeing how we perform, and physically how we get on. Our game is based on physical output, so we are going to need everybody, that’s for sure, in the next three games."
On the challenge facing his side at Rochdale, Glyn said: “It will be tight. They are a good side and they play a certain way - the manager sticks to his beliefs. We know what to expect and we’ve done some work on them. Wherever you go, you have to earn the right, earn your corn, and do what you need to do to get the win.”
Glyn said that new signing Ben Heneghan is in contention to be a part of the squad for the match at Rochdale. However, he was unable to give an indication of the time that Wimbledon will have to do without Luke O'Neill and Jaakko Oksanen, who has returned to parent club Brentford for his recuperation. Both players have been out since October due to ankle injuries.
“In the next couple of days Luke is going to have another scan, so we will get more of an idea if he needs an operation or not," said Glyn. "Hopefully, he doesn’t. Jaakko had gone back to Brentford because we were off for two weeks and he is doing his rehab there. We will get through these next run of games and hopefully we will have a new physio in place as well, so we will take stock and get Jaakko back to see how far away he is."
A look at the opposition
AFC Rochdale are currently 17th in the table, just two points behind the Dons, having won three, drawn three, and lost five, so far this season. Irishman Brian Barry-Murphy, who was a favourite during his playing days at Rochdale, took over as caretaker manager in March 2019 after Keith Hill's departure. Brian was appointed as permanent manager a month later and he guided Rochdale to League One survival. Rochdale are currently enjoying their seventh successive season in League One after promotion in 2013/14. Matthew Lund is Rochdale's top scorer this season with five goals, the 29-year-old former Scunthorpe United midfielder having started this campaign in prolific form. Rochdale will be aiming to get their season back on track tomorrow after three successive defeats, including an FA Cup home loss to Stockport County.
Glyn's first victory as Dons manager came against Rochdale in October 2019, the Dons triumphing 3-2 at the Cherry Red Records Stadium. Goals by Marcus Forss, Paul Osew, and Mitch Pinnock put the Dons well in charge, before two late goals by Ian Henderson for the visitors. Take a look at the highlights from that match by clicking on the link below.
We've also had some memorable victories at Rochdale in recent years, take a look at some great goals and celebrations below, via the link to our official YouTube channel.
The game at Rochdale (3.00 pm kick-off) is available to fans based in the UK for a match pass price of £10. Subscribers with a season pass will also be able to access the game. It will be available to supporters based overseas. Mikey T and Rob Cornell will be providing live WDON commentary on iFollow.
Back To Plough Lane Live!
Wimbledon's return to action means that our preview show is back! Visit our official Facebook channel from 2.15 pm. It includes a catch-up with first-team coach Mark Robinson and a look at our new signing Ben Heneghan, as we countdown to kick-off. You can also join George Jones after the game for post-match reaction from Rochdale.