Ian Henderson of Rochdale playing against Leeds United

Scout Report: Who are Rochdale's key players?

Wednesday 25 September 2019 11:55

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Manchester United are set to host League One side Rochdale at Old Trafford in the third round of the Carabao Cup.

As this is the first time we’ve played against The Dale in a competitive fixture since an FA Cup tie in 1986, we want to help you familiarise yourself with the opposition.

Here, we profile four key men from Brian Barry-Murphy's side...


Brighton keeper Robert Sanchez joined Rochdale on loan this summer and has already established himself as Barry-Murphy’s first-choice stopper.

Born in Cartagena, Spain, Sanchez idolised Iker Casillas, spending hours trying to perfect the Real Madrid star’s quality with both hands and feet. Moving from the Levante Academy to Brighton aged 15 proved a formative experience for the towering 6ft 6in custodian.

“It’s the best decision I’ve ever made,” he said after signing a new contract last summer at the Amex. Excelling on loan as Forest Green Rovers reached the League Two play-offs last term, Sanchez has been equally impressive with Rochdale and has responded well to an error against Peterborough. Tonight he’ll be looking forward to getting up close with another role model. “De Gea is where I want to get to in five or six years,” he said recently.

Sanchez is currently on loan at Rochdale from Premier League Brighton & Hove Albion.


Former Republic of Ireland Under-21 international Eoghan O’Connell has settled quickly alongside Jimmy McNulty at the heart of the defence since arriving from Bury over the summer.

Born into a sporting family – father Damien and brother Andy have played professionally for Cork City, while his cousin is legendary former Ireland and British and Irish Lions rugby union captain Paul O'Connell.

Eoghan joined Celtic as a 16-year-old in 2011 and was voted the Bhoys’ Academy Player of the Year in 2015. Given a Champions League runout 12 months later by then Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers, the rangy centre-back made 13 first-team appearances before joining League Two Bury in June 2017, having impressed on loan at Walsall in 2016/17.

Still only 24, the 6ft 1in defender is the prototype modern centre-back – calm in possession and with “an in-built brain for the game” according to former boss Rodgers – and he was a key cog in Bury’s promotion from League Two last season.


More than 200 games into his career and still just 23, Callum Camps is Rochdale through and through. The technically gifted midfielder made his first-team debut, aged just 17, in a 2-2 draw with Port Vale at Spotland in April 2013.

Eligible to represent Northern Ireland through his grandmother – he was a regular for their U18s and U19s and won one U21 cap in 2015 – Camps earned his first Rochdale start in the club’s memorable FA Cup third-round upset of Championship side Nottingham Forest in January 2015 and hasn’t looked back.

By the end of the month he’d scored a contender for Dale’s goal of the season in a 2-2 draw with Coventry. A regular ever since, the one-club playmaker is the perfect no.10 in Barry-Murphy’s fluid 4-2-3-1 and has already created the most chances for Rochdale this term, frequently cropping up in space between the lines.

Camps is one of the League One club's longest-serving players.


He is a contender for the most important, and consistent, player in Rochdale’s 112-year history.

A product of Norwich’s Academy, Henderson scored six times in 79 games for his local club between 2002-07 – winning the second tier in 2003/04 – before spells at Northampton, Luton and a brief six-month stay in Turkey with Super Lig side Ankaragucu in 2009.

Returning to League One Colchester in 2010, he joined Rochdale three years later, where he’s averaged a goal every three games and has registered double figures for six successive seasons. Now 34, the wily forward with a lethal eye for goal shows no signs of slowing down and has already scored four times this term. Regularly rejecting overtures from other clubs to stay with the club he has adopted as his own, he’s within 20 goals of breaking Reg Jenkins’ record as Dale’s all-time leading goalscorer.

Get the full lowdown on Rochdale, as well as a whole host of other exclusive features and interviews, in the latest edition of United Review.