Captain Liam Kelly is back in training and in contention for a starting spot in tomorrow afternoon’s derby clash with Wigan Athletic.
The midfielder has missed the last four weeks after undergoing minor knee surgery and he is delighted to be back in first team contention.
He said: "It has been four weeks but I’m glad to be back in training. There is nothing better than getting back to playing football again and I’m looking forward to the weekend.
"I’m in contention for Saturday now. I’ve been training for the best part of a week. I’ve not been out for too long so I should not have lost much fitness. Training has been sharp this week so I’m looking forward to it.
"Hopefully there is a big crowd here on Saturday. We like derby games, like you saw with the Rochdale games last season. There was a big crowd, big atmosphere and it is exciting for the fans and it is good for the players.
“Wigan are a good team and they play some good football but if we set up like we are setting up we think we can catch them out."
With the skipper back in the fold, there is some strong competition for places in the middle of the park but that is something he is relishing.
“I think the midfield is a strong area for us and it’s going to be hard for people to keep their place,” Kelly admitted.
“You need competition for places and you know if you are not on your game then someone is capable to step in and take your place."
With new faces around him now, the 25-year-old is excited to be working alongside someone who terrorised him in the Scottish divisions.
“I know Michael Higdon from my time in Scotland when he played for Motherwell,” he said.
“He was Player of the Season up there and he is a big strong presence, technically a good player, good in the air and can score goals so I think that’s what we have been missing."
Watch the full interview on Latics PlayerHD.