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McCall looks ahead to Rochdale test

22 March 2019

Manager Stuart McCall is feeling positive ahead of the game against Rochdale on Saturday (3pm kick-off) and hopes his team can turn their away form around with a win at the Crown Oil Arena.

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23 March 2019

United take on Rochdale this weekend as they look to bounce back from the 2-0 defeat to Portsmouth last time which made it four games without victory away from home.

However, Saturday provides McCall with the chance to earn another valuable three points against a team who sit around them in the bottom half of the table. 

The manager previewed the game with Rochdale and spoke to iFollow Iron about training this week.

Speaking about preparations for the upcoming match, McCall said: “It’s been good. Obviously, we had a game on Tuesday where a few of the experienced lads like Webby (Byron Webster) and Hammy (Adam Hammill) played alongside a lot of young players against a strong Sheffield Wednesday side. 

“The result was harsh on a lot of the young guys because for 40 minutes, we were very good. We conceded just before half-time, lost a few more goals just after, but we got straight back into it, before we let in a couple towards the end. 

“However, like I was saying to the boys, it’s sometimes better to play against good experienced professionals because you learn the game more than you do against players your own age. 

“They understood that it was a learning process and it’s about improving. There were some good individual performances that came out of it too. 

“On Thursday we had a decent session with them all, so I’m looking forward to the game on Saturday.”

The Iron boss has been pleased with the emergence of the Under-23’s side and has hailed the benefit of playing midweek matches, insisting they provide players with the opportunity to get valuable minutes under their belts.  

He added: “Both Webby and Hammy needed a game like some of the other boys did as well. Cameron Borthwick-Jackson came back and played 45 minutes too after seven or eight weeks out, so that was good for him.

“It’s always important to play football and it’s been invaluable for us over the last few months.

“It’s all about competition and these games give the players the chance to not only make an impression in matches, but in training as well, so it’s really helpful for them to get playing time.” 

McCall was also pleased to report that everybody came through the Tuesday game unscathed and has no fresh injury worries ahead of the clash with Rochdale. 

He stated: “Everyone else apart from the long-term ones we’ve had are all good to go.  

“Levi Sutton was back training with us on Tuesday. We eased him into things and on Thursday he did a full session, so he is fine now.”

The manager also provided an update on the long-term absentees and said: “I think they are all going as planned. Jordan (Clarke) was back out again on Thursday and Lundy (Matthew Lund) and Josh (Morris) have gone to see specialists in Manchester just as a routine check.”

However, the Iron will be without attacker George Thomas this weekend as he is currently away on international duty with Wales.

The 21-year-old Leicester loanee starred in their 1-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago, and McCall was delighted to see him out on the pitch for his country.

He continued: “In what was a poor game overall, George did particularly well. He was unfortunate not to score a couple of times, they were deploying him just behind the striker and he played well. 

“He played the full 90 minutes and earnt a full cap, so he will have enjoyed that one.” 

Another player that will miss out on Saturday is striker Kevin van Veen, who serves the second of his two-match ban following suspension after picking up ten yellow cards.

Speaking about that, McCall said: “It’s a shame for him and it’s a shame for us because he’s trained really well this week. However, we’re keeping him sharp and after Saturday, he will be back available.”

The Iron go into the game this weekend looking for only their second win in six matches, but McCall is hopeful United can pick up a positive result against a Rochdale side who have recently parted company with Keith Hill.

Since then, Brian Barry-Murphy has taken over at the helm as caretaker manager and is currently unbeaten in his two matches so far, winning one and drawing the other. 

Talking about the managerial change, McCall went on to say: “Brian Barry-Murphy has come in and has managed a couple of games as a caretaker. 

“Whether they will bring another permanent manager in before our game I’m not too sure. It was a bit of a surprise when Keith (Hill) departed. I spoke to him the day after and I think it hit him hard and came as a bit of a shock to him.  

“Now, it could be a bit different in the way they play, because they’ve set up in a few systems. The pitch isn’t in great condition because they play rugby there too.

“I was down there a few weeks ago when they got beat 4-3 by Wimbledon. They’ve conceded a few goals this season, but they also carry a threat and in Ian Henderson, they’ve got one of the top players in this division on form.  

“It’s going to be a tough test, but we need to get out of our rut away from home and put in a better performance that’ll hopefully get us the three points.”

See much more from Stuart McCall and Lee Novak on iFollow Iron. Click here to sign up.

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