Chesterfield make their fourth visit of 2016 to Spotland on Boxing Day to face a Rochdale side in form.
The Dale, like the Spireites, have suffered from an injury cisis in the first half of the season – but Keith Hill’s men find themselves sitting fifth.
Manchester Evening News journalist Richard Partington says fringe players have played a big part in Rochdale’s success.
“They’ve won four of their last five League One games, they are scoring goals and looking very strong,” he said.
“Throughout October and November they were beset with injuries, international call ups and suspensions to key players, but throughout that period they maintained form with several ‘fringe’ squad players coming into the side and stepping up to the plate.
“Oliver Rathbone has been the most obvious, playing in an attacking midfield role.
“He’s a former Man United youth player who took time to get to grips with League One football, but he’s looking an asset now.
“Joe Thompson is another in fine form who probably wouldn’t have got a look in had others remained fit.”
Players like Keith Keane and Calvin Andrew returning have given Hill strong competition for places.
But most impressive for Partington have been a pair of youngsters.
“Perhaps the most most outstanding players so far this season though have been Callum Camps and Joe Bunney, two young lads who have been asked to play different roles and have done so to great effect.
“Camps is an attacking, goalscoring midfielder but was asked to play the deep sitting, holding midfield role.
“Bunney was a striker who has been converted into a left back and his delivery and set-pieces have become a real threat to opponents.”
Rochdale’s Joe Lund and Chesterfield’s Jay O’Shea are joint fifth in the league’s top goalscoring midfielders standings.
When it comes to discipline, Chesterfield have been better behaved in league action than Monday’s hosts, taking 36 yellows compared with Rochdale’s 41 cautions and four red cards.
Rochdale possess the third best home defensive record in League One, while Chesterfield have the second worst overall defensive record in the division.
At home, the Dale have only been outscored by Scunthorpe.
Referee for the game will be Carl Boyeson, a man who has dished out 29 yellow cards in his eight League One games so far this season.
In League Two he’s shown the yellow card 21 times in six matches.
Likely line up (4-3-3): Logan, Rafferty, Keane, McNulty, Bunney, Camps, Lund, Rathbone, Henderson, Davies, Thompson.