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Halford is glad to be back

STEVE Halford is raring to get back on the pitch after sitting out a five game suspension in what he describes as a "frustrating" time.

STEVE Halford is raring to get back on the pitch after sitting out a five game suspension in what he describes as a "frustrating" time.

The defender is again available for selection for tomorrow's game against bottom club Northwich Victoria as the Reds haven't won a Conference clash in his absence.

But while he comes in, out goes Robbie Williams as he begins a five match ban following his sending off against Dagenham and he has amassed 10 bookings.

There is some good news though in that Rochdale have allowed Stanley to have the versatile Lee McEvilly for another month - he has been filling in at right back as the Reds have been hit with injuries and suspensions at the back. Paul Howarth has missed the last two games with a sore ankle and a virus.

"It is like swapping and changing all the time," said former Bury centre half Halford who has had eight bookings and three sendings off this season.

"But I can't wait to get back out there and see if we can keep pushing for the play-offs. Some of our discipline has been our fault and we know we have got to stop things like mouthing and kicking the ball away."

"It has been so hard. It has been my worst season for discipline and I can't regret some of the bookings as I feel they have been harsh."

"But my big regret is the final one - the dissent - against Colchester in the FA Cup replay where I just got het up as things weren't going our way. And I have learnt my lesson as it has been a big punishment with a five-match ban. It has been so frustrating."

He may partner loan man Darran Kempson who was outstanding in the 2-2 draw at Woking with another late goal denying the Reds what could have been a crucial three points.

Peter Cavanagh sits out his final game of his five match suspension tomorrow while Jonathan Smith has started his battle back from a broken wrist after playing in the 6-3 win over Radcliffe Borough in the Lancashire FA Marsden Trophy on Tuesday.

The Reds will now face Conference rivals Morecambe in the final with a venue and date yet to be arranged although it could be in late March.

But first, the Reds are out to get one over on rock bottom Northwich Victoria who are having a torrid season.

They have lost 12 of their last 13 league games and had three managers with former Burscough boss Shaun Teale currently at the helm.

"On paper we should win this one but you don't win games on paper," said boss John Coleman.

"We have got to apply ourselves and be more compact than we were on Tuesday but have got to have the same willingness to score goals and the same inventiveness in and around the box."

"We are pleased to have Lee here for another month - he is the type of lad who just enjoys playing football and if you asked him to play in goal he would love it! That is testament to his character."

Meanwhile, Rory Prendergast's hoping to score more goals in the league after scoring twice in the Trophy match.

The winger has scored four league goals this season including one against Northwich in the 3-3 draw which went straight in from a corner.

"I have got to admit that was a bit of a fluke," said Prendergast. "Everyone was asking if I meant to do it but the wind took it into the net."

"But it won't be easy tomorrow as it is difficult against teams who have something to play for."

"They will be battling hard to get off the bottom."

But he knows a win is important if Stanley are to stand any chance of a play off spot.

"I was looking at the fixtures the other day and of the 12 bottom teams, we have to play eight of them."

"So there is still a chance we can do it but we do need all the points we can get."

Midfielder Ged Brannan is also out with a thigh strain.

  • DAMIEN Hindle has gone on loan to Rossendale.


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