United boss Paul Simpson confirmed at his pre-match press conference ahead of the Tuesday night game that Jamie Devitt is a doubt, with the midfielder having taken a whack to the leg in the second half of the weekend away game at Orient.
“He’s still sore, so he’s a doubt for Rochdale,” he said. “We’re going to give him as long as we can, but that’s the same for all of the players.
“He took a kick, nothing more than that, but we’re hopeful he will be ok. We’ll see how he is tomorrow and we’ll give him as long as possible to be available for selection.
“Nobody else picked up any injuries. We’re sort of match day plus two where they all still have aches and pains, which in our day we just used to get on with it.
“It’s different now, we have to protect them and look after them, and there are players who haven’t started games for a long time who came through 90 minutes.
“We’ll have to check on them all on Tuesday morning, make a decision when we have our pre-match talk and go from there with it.”
“These are big decisions,” he added. “We need to see how Jamie is, and it really is a big decision that we have to make around it.
“Thankfully we’ve got players like Corey Whelan, Danny Devine, Owen Windsor who’s bursting to get in, Mitch Roberts, the strikers in Tyrese Omotoye, Tobi Sho-Silva and Lewi Alessandra.
“They’re all waiting and ready to get into the side, waiting for an opportunity. The boys who got the chance on Saturday grabbed it with both hands, and now whenever changes are made whoever does come in has got to show they can go and grab it as well.
“One of the things I said to the players on Wednesday was it isn’t going to be about the eleven that gets selected at Orient, it’s going to be about the whole group.
“I had that conversation with Gime Toure, Rod McDonald and Brennan Dickenson, to explain to them that I want them to be available. If it’s for five games, ten games, whatever, I don’t care, I want them available.
“I can’t guarantee I’m going to select them, but I want all of the players available for selection so we can put whatever permutation of bodies out there with whatever shape we decide to use, and hope they can get the results.”
Keeper Magnus Norman missed out at the weekend as he continued his recovery from his back spasm, but there was better news on his recovery.
“Magnus trained today (Monday) so we need to see whether he had any reaction,” he explained. “He’s had a back spasm over the last week or so.
“There’s a chance he might come back into it for tonight. We’ve got Joel Senior who goes in for surgery today. Rod McDonald and Brennan Dickenson we’re hoping they will be able to join us next week, maybe train towards the back end of this week, but this weekend will be too early.
“Gime Toure, we’re starting to build up his work and hopefully he’ll be back in a couple of weeks. We’re working on him, and I’m looking forward to seeing him because he’s the kind of player who I think could add something really different and who could be a match winner on his day.
“Kelvin Mellor is still probably start of April for him so the more of these experienced bodies we can get back in, the better it’s going to be for us.
“The more competition for places there’ll be, and it’ll give me that option to be able to rotate it a little bit more when we’ve got Saturday-Tuesday games.”
And he spoke again about the important role everybody had to play – injured or not – when it comes to developing and harnessing team spirit.
“Them playing their part in that has been huge,” he confirmed. “I want the dressing room to be together and I want everybody to enjoy it when we win and to feel the pain when we lose as well, or when it hasn’t quite gone our way.
“That’s when you start to get a better feel around the place and I think that’s really important. I’ve been at football clubs when we’ve won and the players haven’t come in the dressing room, and when we lost they did come in.
“I don’t want that, and it’s up to me and the staff to make sure they all realise they’re involved. When I named the subs on Saturday I apologised to Danny Devine that he wasn’t involved because he hadn’t done anything wrong, but I had to pick 18.
“When you take 19 unfortunately somebody has to miss out, and it was his turn on Saturday. There’ll be other players who will miss out going forward, and I always think in football management the starting eleven is easy.
“It’s the 12 to 24 finishers who are really important that you have to look after. That’s something I’ve learned over time, and it’s important that we get those lads who are going to go on and finish games for us to a place where they’re totally with us, in the right frame of mind, and singing off the same hymn sheet.”
But is he getting the feeling that everyone is on board with that message?
“I have done so far, yeah,” he commented. “I’m the new kid on the block, I’m a new face in the building, so everybody is still trying to be nice to me and get in favour.
“I just hope we keep it for as long as possible. I would really like it if, come May - when we’ve played at Bradford, everybody has been in it together and everybody has something to smile about.
“I want everybody to be able to go away and have a pleasant summer break knowing that they did their bit, they stuck together and did their job for the club.”