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Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
By: Richard Lord
RUSSELL Slade takes his troops to Rochdale knowing that a win will put his side top of League 2. The fixture, which has been postponed twice already, will finally be played on what is sure to be a tricky playing surface.
Grimsby have a couple of injury concerns ahead of the game - Michael Reddy passed a late fitness test to play against Bury at the weekend but the management team will look to assess their top scorer before making a decision on whether to name him in the starting eleven. With a tough trip to Lincoln on the horizon, Slade may be inclined to rest the 13-goal striker.
Curtis Woodhouse is nursing a sore hip and could miss out altogether, with Jean Paul Kamudimba Kalala the likely replacement. The position is also open to Ciaran Toner, but he too is recovering from a minor knock sustained in the win over Bury.
The main talking point surrounds who will start in the Mariners' defence. Justin Whittle has shown some good form in the two games he's played since recovering from a knee injury, and Ben Futcher has been improving since his January transfer move from Boston. Rob Jones returns from suspension but might have to settle for a place on the bench if Slade decides to stick with a winning team.
Rochdale, who up until last weekend had only played one home game in seven weeks, will be looking to bounce back from their disappointing 1-0 weekend defeat to Wrexham. Dale, who are currently managed by Steve Parkin - in his second spell at the club - have only registered two wins in their last 16 league outings, and they haven't won in front of their home fans since November 26, when they beat Shrewsbury 4-3.
Their season started well, and they looked to be genuine promotion contenders until they came unstuck at Blundell Park. Grimsby's 4-1 victory over Parkin's men signalled the start of their dismal run of form, which has seen them slip down the table and cut short any hopes of a play-off push.
Two former Town players are likely to start for Rochdale: Tony Gallimore has been a regular this season, starting 34 games but he's yet to score for the club. Simon Ramsden has also been featuring in Rochdale's starting eleven since he joined the club in January.
Rochdale's main threat will come from Ricky Lambert, who is the club's top scorer with 16 goals this season. Since Grant Holt's departure to Forest, Lambert has been in fine form - indeed, he netted the goal in his side's defeat at Grimsby back in December.
Iyseden Christie will cause some problems for the Mariners' defence. His experience in this league stretches back over his entire career, where his most telling contribution came at Mansfield over two spells. The Coventry-born striker joined Dale from Conference outfit Kidderminster at the end of January and has notched one goal in six starts for his new club.
Rochdale have been rather generous in defence this season - both home and away - although they also know their way to goal. They've scored just two fewer than Grimsby this season, so whoever Slade chooses to start at the back will know that they'll be tested.
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