FA Cup preview: Doncaster Rovers v Rochdale - Ferguson expects tough test from familiar foes

John Marquis tangles with Rochdale's Donervon Daniels during last week's meeting between the sides.
John Marquis tangles with Rochdale's Donervon Daniels during last week's meeting between the sides.

‘Can we play you every week’ the song goes.

When it comes to Doncaster Rovers and Rochdale it seems as though the footballing gods have been listening.

The two sides will meet for the fourth time on Saturday, this time in the FA Cup third round. It will be the second time they have met in eight days and third time in less than six weeks.

Rovers may have swept Dale aside in their 2-0 win on December 29 but they toiled in the previous two meetings at Spotland.

So it is no surprise that Darren Ferguson is expecting a difficult encounter when Keith Hill brings his side to the Keepmoat this weekend.

“It’ll be another tough game because, as I’ve said many times this season, Rochdale always seem to give us a tough game,” Ferguson told the Free Press.

“It’s very similar to the games we’ve had recently - win it and take care of everything else after that.

“It’s a cup match, we’re at home.

“For us it’s a case of it’s a cup match, make it a cup match and get through to the next round.”

Given the respect Ferguson typically shows the competition, he looks set to name a strong side for the visit of Dale.

Plus there are potentially lucrative ties awaiting in the fourth round should Rovers progress.

While a strong side is his priority, Ferguson says he may hand opportunities to those players that have impressed during his shuffling of the squad over the busy festive period.

“I’ll pick as strong a team as I can,” he said.

“But some of them have done very well when they’ve come in.

“I thought Mandeville did fine at times. He picked up good positions but you’re sometimes urging him to show a bit more belief and conviction.

“But he did fine and he didn’t do himself any harm.”

James Coppinger seems likely to feature after missing the New Year’s Day trip to Peterborough United through illness.

Rochdale head to the Keepmoat on the back of a three game losing streak.

Their last victory came in the previous round of the FA Cup when they beat Slough Town 4-0. They have won once in their last ten League One matches.