Date: 13th November 2015 at 2:47pm
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Manager Keith Hill has given his thoughts ahead of this weekend’s tie against Wigan Athletic.

With Wigan being shown live on Sky Sports and with the FA Cup Bury clash also now shown by BT Sport, the next three weeks is a good opportunity for Rochdale to show the wider world what they are truly like.

Speaking to the Official Site in his pre game press conference, the gaffer explained.

‘I`m pleased and I`m excited (television pick). I`m excited for the weekend`s game against Wigan and I`m excited for the occasion in the FA Cup. I think it was a stand-out tie of the round when selected during the draw so I`m really pleased that we`re getting a little bit of coverage. Last season was a very successful season for us and we were on the TV when we played Stoke City in the FA Cup. I`m surprised that we didn`t get one of the league fixtures but this season we have and we`re playing against a very good Wigan side.’

With this weekend’s opposition relegated from the Championship last year, they come to Spotland with an unbeaten run of ten behind them – including five wins – so Hill knows it’s going to be a tough ask against a side he expects to gain automatic promotion this term.

‘They`ll be in the top two. There`s no question in my mind that at the end of the season they`ll be in the top two. Sometimes it takes big football clubs a certain amount of time to settle in and understand the league that they find themselves in, but they`ve found out and understood the league very early. It hasn`t gone the 10 or 15 games where they`ve struggled and are playing a massive catch up. When you look at the squad of players that they`ve got, they`ve arguably got two experienced high quality players for every position. They can recruit the best, they can retain the best and if they get injuries and suspensions they can recruit again. It has been well documented that the Chairman has suggested that they can have the best budget by a country mile to outstrip any other team in the league and I probably agree that they can do that.’

With those advantages spoken about, Hill went on to credit the job that Gary Caldwell is doing with them as obviously it takes more than just money.

As for Rochdale, it is the third fixture in eight days and with a loss to Morecambe in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, Hill is looking for a reaction.

‘The games are coming thick and fast. We didn`t quite reach the standards or the achievements that we expected on Tuesday night. We wanted to do well so I felt pretty let down and disappointed with the manner of the performance. We were beaten by an honest side and that`s normally what we do. But listen, we`ve been knocked out of the Johnstone`s Paint Trophy before so hopefully it won`t make too much of an impact leading into the Wigan game.’

He went on to add that despite that disappointment though he was still pleased with the general upward curve that the club is on.

‘We`re making really good progress as football club with the players that we`ve got. The club is establishing itself and that`s our main aim this season, to establish ourselves as a League One club and fight the good fight throughout the course of the remainder of the season. We`ve got 30 league games to play and one thing I will say is that when we`ve not been really great this season, we`ve managed to grind out a point and it`s important that when we`re not being great in the league that we can grind out results. We showed great character coming back from 2-0 down against Southend away. It shows that there`s a fighting spirit, the lads want to do particularly well, so we can`t be too harsh. We`re trying to make steady progress on and off the field.’

As for an injury update, with Jamie Allen, Callum Camps, Ian Henderson, Reuben Noble-Lazarus and Joe Rafferty all missing on Tuesday evening with issues of their own – Matty Lund also joined them with a thigh strain at half time in the match and the gaffer admitted it was becoming problematic.

‘It`s difficult and I`m selecting players who probably aren`t in the best of form, but again, I`m prepared to trust and give the players another opportunity or an extended opportunity. These opportunities have to be taken and they have to be taken with consistent performances. It`s not good having one great performance, one indifferent and then one bad because that doesn`t give anybody any sort of value to support selection. We`re going through it at the minute and it`s tough with the injuries that we`ve got to key players. I`ve got to make sure that I get these key players back on the training pitch for a sustained period of time before they get reintroduced because we need big performances from players, as well as consistent performances in the beliefs that we play the game.’

He ended by saying that he was ‘reluctant’ to dip into the loan market, and at the moment he was still of a mind to ‘stick’ with the players that we have and give them the chance to impress.’

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