Paul Dickov is anticipating a "blood and thunder" npower League 1 encounter when he takes his Oldham Athletic side on the short journey to neighbours Rochdale on Saturday for his first local derby as a Manager.

What will also be the first League meeting in 36 years between the two Lancashire sides, who sit just five miles apart on either side of the M62, could be of real significance to each club in what is the only League 2 match of the weekend.

A win for Oldham would lift them to third in the table, just one point below the automatic promotion spots, while victory for Keith Hill's Rochdale would take them up to 14th and five points clear of the relegation zone as they look to establish themselves at this level following their long-awaited promotion from League 2.

Dickov told "I'm really looking forward to this match. I'm expecting a high tempo, blood and thunder derby played in a great atmosphere - we're taking over 3,000 fans and hopefully it will be a great day for them.

"We'll be going there with every respect for Rochdale. Keith's done a fantastic job there, they've had some good results so far this season and I'm expecting a very tough test. But it's a game that we're capable of winning if we do the things we do best."

Oldham have been doing what they do best for much of the campaign following the close season appointment as Manager of 38-year-old former Scotland striker Dickov, whose clubs in a much-travelled career included Arsenal, Manchester City, Leicester City and Blackburn Rovers before leaving Leeds United to join the Latics.

He has maintained his player registration but has made only one substitute appearance and is unlikely to make many more. "I've not really been needed," said Dickov.

"I'm asking the players to train day-in, day-out to prepare for playing on a Saturday and if I can't do that myself because of my management commitments then it would be a massive contradiction for me to put myself in the team ahead of others.

"I could be involved if we get problems with injuries or suspensions, but even then the lads would have to be playing badly for me to pick myself."

Dickov is approaching management in the same wholehearted, fully committed way he played his football and it's so far, so good as he guides his young team through what is promising to be a sustained promotion challenge.

He refuses to look too far ahead, however, as he tackles a steep management learning curve. "I was lucky to have a 21-year-plus playing career," he said, "and now I'm learning every day as a Manager and loving every single minute of it.

"We've got a team with an average age lower than 21-and-a-half, so there's a bit of naivety at times and concentration levels over 90 minutes need to be better.

"But when we're at our best we play with high energy at a high tempo, we close teams down, we score some great goals and give opponents real problems - and if we can do that consistently then we can really develop as a team."

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