|Huddersfield Town 0 v 1 Rochdale|
Saturday, 5th September 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Match Preview: Huddersfield vs Dale
Thursday, 3rd Sep 2020 14:25 by AtThePeake
Dale set out to play their first competitive fixture since March this Saturday afternoon as they take on Championship side Huddersfield Town in the EFL Cup.
Date: Saturday 5th September 2020
Yet in these crazy times, that's exactly what has happened and now Dale take to the field to kick-off their season on Saturday afternoon against Championship outfit Huddersfield Town in the EFL Cup with just five of the starting eleven from that win over the Millers back in March still in their squad.
This is a Dale starting the season with no Ian Henderson for the first time since 2012. It's a Dale without the long-serving and influential Callum Camps. It's a Dale without the stability and coolness of loan stars Rhys Norrington-Davies and Robert Sanchez, who proved themselves at this level during the 2019/2020 season.
It's a Dale without the backing of our usually excellent away support too as, of course, games will be played mostly behind closed doors with the exception of a few 'pilot' fixtures for other clubs before live sport is allowed to be attended at a limited capacity from October 1st. What's more, we shouldn't even have been away in the first place of course, but the match has been switched from Spotland to the John Smith's Stadium to allow our pitch a little more time to be ready for the first home league fixture of the season to be played there in two weeks time.
With deals still clearly needing to be done as Brian Barry-Murphy is in desperate need of attacking options and a first-choice left-back, it remains to be seen how Dale will line-up for this game. Judging from the friendly fixture, Keohane will fill in on the left side of the defence whilst the returning Ryan McLaughlin will slot into the right-back spot.
Paul McShane and Jimmy McNulty are competing for the centre-back spot alongside newly-appointed skipper Eoghan O'Connell, whilst it appears that Ollie Rathbone will continue to miss out amidst speculation about his future, which could lead to a midfield of Jimmy Ryan, Matty Lund and Stephen Dooley and the front three, if the friendlies are anything to go by, will be made up of Alex Newby, Matt Done and Fabio Tavares.
Of course, Rathbone may be available for selection, whilst the likes of Aaron Morley and Kwadwo Baah will also feel they have more than a claim for a starting spot so there are still headaches for BBM to solve even before he completes the make-up of his squad for the campaign.
This is a Dale with new players, a new kit and a new outlook - heading into a new season during the new normal.
Having shocked everyone to survive for a season in the Premier League following promotion under David Wagner in 2017/2018, the second season syndrome kicked in with a vengeance the following campaign, with the German boss leaving before the season petered out into a bottom-placed finish in the top half.
Wagner was replaced by Jan Siewert in the Premier League, but Siewert didn't last very long in the Championship and was replaced by former Lincoln boss Dan Cowley part-way through the season. An 18th placed finish saw the club steer clear from the very real threat of back-to-back relegations, but the abrasive style clearly didn't do enough to impress the powers that be and he has since been replaced by former Leeds U23 coach Carlos Corberán.
The Spaniard has struggled somewhat in restructuring his squad as expectations of at least a mid-table finish this time around linger. Experienced players such as Collin Quaner, Elias Kachunga and Danny Simpson have been shown the door this summer along with former Dale loanee Rekeil Pyke, who has joined Shrewsbury Town on a three-year deal.
But the arrivals in their place are mostly made up of youngsters from other academies. The only two first-team signings have come in the shape of popular attacker Danny Ward, who spent four successful years in West Yorkshire between 2011 and 2015 and another former Dale loanee in Joel Castro Perreira, who remains a Manchester United player but joins the Terriers on loan after a spell with Hearts last season.
In their two pre-season fixtures, Huddersfield have earned themselves a 2-1 win over neighbours Bradford City and played out an exciting 3-3 draw with Manchester United's U23s last weekend thanks to goals from Alex Pritchard, Juninho Bacuna and Josh Koroma. On paper, they have the stronger side and will expect to swat aside Dale with the same ease that they did in running out 4-0 winners when the two sides met in the FA Cup back in 2017.
28 Jan 2017 - Rochdale 0-4 Huddersfield Town - FA Cup
Photo: Action Images
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