Rochdale manager Keith Hill says his side will not fear taking on a club of potential Premier League quality in their latest League One clash against Preston North End this weekend.
His team sit ninth in the division after two impressive away victories against Yeovil and Swindon, and Hill is pleased with the positive energy surrounding the club at this stage of the season.
Dale will be up against one of the pre-season promotion favourites when the Lilywhites visit Spotland on Saturday, but the manager believes his players will not be over-awed.
“Preston are a Championship side and you could argue that potentially they could be a Premier League Club,” Hill told the club’s website.
“We will have a lot of respect for the opposition and what they’ve done so far this season because they’re in their rightful place at this moment in time in the top two.
“Simon Grayson is a superb manager. It’s going to be an excellent game and it’ll be a difficult task but we’ll definitely have no fear.”
Preston come into the fixture on an eight-game winning streak across all competitions, and are two points off the top spot with fixture in hand over leaders Bristol City.
However Dale are having an impressive season of their own, recording back-to-back victories and scoring six goals in their last two fixtures.
“It was a tremendous week and it was a great feeling turning up to work again on Monday,” Hill said.
“There’s a good feeling at the Football Club. There’s a great feeling on the training pitch and there’s a good feeling going into games.
“We have stuck to task with our plan and we’ll continue to do that. At the minute everything is going well and hopefully we’ll continue to be productive.”
Rochdale’s squad depth will be tested over the next month with the side facing league encounters against Port Vale, Doncaster, MK Dons and Oldham, as well as an FA Cup tie with Northampton Town next weekend.
Reuben Noble-Lazarus could potentially make his debut for Dale on Saturday, the 21-year-old having signed on loan from Barnsley until January.
Keith Hill will still be without influential forward Peter Vincenti, who sustained a knee injury against Swindon on October 21. The Jersey man ruptured a medial ligament and is expected to be out for six to eight weeks.
Preston will be relying on Joe Garner to provide them with goals on Saturday, with the frontman having notched ten league strikes already this season.
Striker Paul Gallagher is doubtful to feature for the visitors due to a groin problem, while winger Andy Little is also suffering from a calf injury.
Bailey Wright will miss the fixture as he is recovering from surgery, but Tom Clarke, Calum Woods and Will Hayhurst may all return for Grayson’s side.
The teams have met once before this season, with Preston running out 2-0 winners in their League Cup first round tie.
Manager Simon Grayson spoke to his club’s official website about the threat that Rochdale pose, saying: “They’ve got plenty of energy and movement. They use the ball ever so well.
“They’re a good team. We are under no illusions that it is going to be a tough game for us.
“People are talking about two and a half to three thousand [Preston] fans there so it will be a fantastic Lancashire derby.”
Main image courtesy of Texaco FC via YouTube, with thanks.