Rochdale arrive at The Valley on Saturday safe from a relegation which was looking inevitable two months ago. A disastrous new year led to the sacking of manager Keith Hill in early March after a run of ten games with only one win and twenty seven goals conceded. They had lost 0-5 at Doncaster and 1-5 at Plymouth and had been beaten at home 0-4 by Burton and 3-4 by Wimbledon. At that point they were in twenty third place.
Hill's replacement is former player Brian Barry-Murphy who improved the team's fortunes immediately. His ten games in charge have produced six wins, two draws and only two defeats (to Luton and Portsmouth). Remarkably, they have kept clean sheets in five of those games and have won their last three games 1-0 (against Wycombe, Bristol Rovers and Southend). Even so, with 83 goals conceded, they are still the leakiest defence in the EFL.
After four games as caretaker manager Barry-Murphy was offered a two year contract as a reward for his achievement and to ensure that the club kept hold of him. Are you watching Mr Duchatelet?
Rochdale bring with them one of League One's leading goal scorers - Ian Henderson - who has twenty goals so far. The striker has now been with the club for six years and has 96 goals from 264 games but Charlton have no reason to fear him. Not one of the top goal scorers in League One have scored at The Valley this season - Collins, Marquis, Eaves, Evans, Ladapo, Moore, Lowe. None between the lot of them.
With Portsmouth and Sunderland both losing on Tuesday, Charlton could still achieve third place in League One. A win against Rochdale while Portsmouth lose at home to Accrington and Sunderland are beaten at Southend would mean that the Addicks would leapfrog their rivals and face either Doncaster or Peterborough in the play-offs. This is an unlikely scenario, however, and Sunderland would seem to be the most likely opponents. The top priority on Saturday may well be the avoidance of injuries.