Rochdale are taking steps to ensure Joe Bunney, their in-form centre-forward, is firing on all cylinders when Sheffield United visit Spotland tomorrow.
The 22-year-old has scored four goals in his last three games, including two against Bradford City earlier this month.
But manager Keith Hill concedes Rochdale’s pressing game has taken its toll on the player in recent weeks, saying: “It’s superb. He’s in good form but he’s very, very tired. It’s a big ask for him because it’s difficult for strikers when they’re having to close the back four and the goalkeeper down who are keeping possession.”
Bunney was on target again when Fleetwood Town, who play host to United next weekend, lost at Rochdale on Tuesday evening.
Although Hill admitted the result leaves his team on the brink of achieving its main target this term - “I’m trying to establish this football club in League One and I feel we are in line for that” - the former Barnsley chief warned repeating the mistakes which pockmarked the performance could prove costly against United.
“I think we were fortunate to keep a clean sheet,” said Hill. “A lot of our general defending was good but some of the decisions we made were unexplainable.
“I was happy for the opposition to have possession in deep areas and in the first 25 minutes of the game they didn’t hurt us at all. But then we hurt ourselves, which gave the opposition encouragement.
“It was important to get to get these three points as it backs up our two previous draws. It’s no good being a development coach or manager, my history and my success at the club doesn’t mean nothing. It’s about this season and we needed the three points and we got them.”