For Keith Hill and his Rochdale side this season is something of a step into the unknown.

Their promotion in May was their first in 36 years, so it's fair to say they knew League 2 inside and out but this campaign is a learning curve for everyone involved.

Dale are still looking for their first league win of the season but tonight they go in search of their second win in the Carling Cup, against Birmingham City at St Andrews, before attentions turn back to League 1 and the trip to Brentford.

Hill has made several changes from the squad that won promotion, several of which have been enforced but the Manager admits he's always looking to improve his squad, so was planning several changes:

"I think in the course of the last two and a half years there has probably been two teams in my time at Rochdale. The recycling of players has been quite evident, we have only got one player left from when we took over which is Gary Jones.

"It is great to have a freshness but we wanted to have a core strength, we have lost a few along the way but they have all gone to the Championship or teams in the SPL and there is still a few clubs chasing players that we've got.

"We reach a financial ceiling at Rochdale where we can't retain those players we have developed and it is only fair for those players to play at a higher level. We have to recycle and go again."

After finally achieving promotion the town has been buzzing and expectations rising, which the 41-year-old fully understands but he's hoping that the feel good factor can remain until May:

"The fans have waited so long for the club to get promoted and I hope that continues regardless of what the outcome of the season is because it is going into the unknown. Resources aren't great and we're going to have to over achieve. We are going to have to be competitive underdogs because we haven't got a great sized squad and the resources impact on that.

"Team spirit is essential for smaller clubs and it can be a good thing having a small squad because everyone has a realistic chance of playing but you do need a larger pool of players to be successful."

We hear so often about the importance of team spirit especially for clubs without massive financial backing and the Dale boss admits getting the right players in is a key part to his recruitment process and it's not just down to their ability:

"Essentially we are looking for the same ingredients that have given us success when we are looking to bring players in. We are looking for an extra bit of quality but they have to be of a good character, they have to work hard and they have to be fully inclusive in our plan for success.

"That is integral with our recruitment when we do get it wrong we do move players on quickly and that might be new signings who haven't fitted into our football club or what we're trying to endorse on the training pitch. We expect them to be able to do that in the space of two or three weeks, if they don't, we'll soon get rid of those sorts of players and move on."

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