PNE opponents play it with style

Ian Henderson will be one of Rochdale's danger men

Ian Henderson will be one of Rochdale's danger men

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Preston North End will have to contend with one of the best footballing sides in League One today.

Rochdale arrive at Deepdale having won many plaudits this season for their playing style since winning promotion from League Two last season.

Manager Keith Hill encourages his men to pass the ball rather than go direct and it has gained results this season.

Dale are in seventh spot in the table – just one point behind Chesterfield, who occupy the final play-off position.

North End enjoyed an early season win over Rochdale in the Capital One Cup at spotland, but were then well beaten in the first league match between the pair in November.

Rochdale’s 3-0 victory ended a sequence of eight successive wins for Preston and they are on a similar run of form as the two teams go head to head once again.

North End have won eight and drawn three of their previous 11 games, but Rochdale’s recent form is not too shabby either – they have five wins from their last seven.

PNE utility man Jack King is well aware of the threat posed by Keith Hill’s team.

“It’s going to be a tricky test for us,” he said.

“They did us 3-0 at their place which is always fresh in the mind.

“We probably feel like we owe them one after that game.

“They are a very good side, who like to pass it around.

“On their day, they are capable of beating anyone in this division so we know we will have to be on our mettle if we are to win.

“We are fully aware of the threat they pose but hopefully we will be able to reverse the result we suffered at their place .

Rochdale defeated rock-bottom Yeovil Town by the narrow score of 2-1 last weekend.

And Hill will be forced into making changes to his side.

Goalkeeper Jamie Jones, who is on loan at Spotland from Preston, will not be able to play against his parent club tomorrow. The former Leyton Orient shot-stopper made 20 appearances for North End earlier in the season after joining in the summer.

After starting the season in goal, he was subsequently replaced by Thorsten Stuckmann and was allowed out on loan.

He signed for Coventry City initially and played four games for the Sky Blues before joining Rochdale at the end of February, where he has started eight times.

With Jones unavailable, Hill is likely to give a recall to Josh Lillis, who has played 15 times so far this season.

Another player who Hill will be without tomorrow is Jack O’Connell. The ex-Blackburn Rovers trainee has spent the past couple of seasons on loan at Rochdale, but after scoring the winner against Yeovil last weekend was recalled by parent club Brentford.

Hill is hoping O’Connell will get some game-time with the Bees rather than kick his heels on the substitutes’ bench.

“It’s a pity but he has left us on a good note,” Hill said. “He has been so big an influence in what we have achieved over the last two seasons.

“I think he is a marvellous player.

“I’m not Mark Warburton but the last thing he needs at this time is to be sat on his backside playing bounce matches or against Under-21s opponents.”