Rochdale braced to be without SIX key players for Sunderland clash as injuries and suspensions mount

Rochdale could be without SIX key players for their visit to Sunderland on Saturday – as injuries and suspensions take their toll.

While the Black Cats have their own injury woes, which could leave them with just one senior centre back available for the League One clash, their visitors are also thin on numbers.

But their problems are coming at the other end of the field, with a number of the Dale’s attacking players doubtful through injury.

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Jake Beesley, Matthew Lund, Stephen Dooley, Jimmy Ryan and Jack Vale all missed the midweek defeat at Hull City and the visit to Wearside may come too soon for them.

Rochdale could be without several key players at Sunderland

Speaking in midweek, manager Brian Barry-Murphy admitted that the absence of some of his key creative talents meant a change in tact for his side.

"We can play a lot better in terms of our attacking play but we are missing a lot of attacking players, and that’s not an excuse, it’s just a fact,” he said.

“We are missing Jake Beesley, Matthew Lund, Stephen Dooley, Jimmy Ryan in midfield and Jack Vale who was brought in as a striker. We are in a position as a club where we can’t replace those players when they are missing.

"Like I said, it’s not an excuse, it’s just a clear reason as to why we may find it difficult to score goals at the moment. We’re doing everything we can to create chances by pressure and committing men forward - we did that tonight but we just couldn’t score.”

Meanwhile, midfielder Oliver Rathbone – who has previously been linked with a move to the Stadium of Light – was sent-off in the weekend defeat at Burton Albion and will be suspended for the game at Sunderland.

But he won't be joined on the sidelines by defender Conor Shaughnessy, who saw the red card he was awarded at Hull on Tuesday overturned.

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Barry-Murphy said earlier this week he would explore the possibility having felt the call was harsh.

“I had no problems on Saturday with Ollie’s red card even though he was provoked, but tonight I have a problem with it because I don’t think Conor is reckless and I don’t think he’s out of control,” said the Dale boss.

"I think he has tried to tackle with one foot on the ground and one foot on the ball which gets the ball.

“I understand referees are a little bit anxious when they see players going towards the ball at speed but he remained in control. I’ll be very keen to appeal it but I know history suggests that appealing these decisions can be a waste of time at times.”

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Rochdale are in serious relegation danger, having slipped to 23rd in League One after a dismal run of results.

The Spotland side haven’t won since a 2-1 triumph over Bristol Rovers on January 30 and have lost six of their last ten league outings – which has put manager Barry-Murphy under pressure from some segments of the club’s supporter base.

A message from the Football Clubs Editor:

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Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor