WHARFEDALE'S player development director Rob Baldwin believes that this year's squad is stronger than ever and he hopes that the players will stick together even if the team suffer relegation later this month.

Baldwin believes that his charges have "underperformed" this season, given the quality and balance on offer.

He enthused: "The squad this year is better than the one we had last year. We have had injuries but we've had quality cover.

"We've got a mix of fresh, young players and guys with a lot of National League One experience.

"We have underperformed, there's no doubt about it and the squad has to do better than it has."

When asked if relegation could decimate the squad, Baldwin admitted: "It's a conversation we've got to have next week, asking the lads who's on board for putting relegation behind us and getting on with next season and targeting promotion."

Baldwin was honest about Dale's plight in National League Division Two North, saying that all three of their remaining games, against Hinckley, Tynedale and Macclesfield, were "must-win" fixtures.

He insisted that while his team had shown the necessary fight against the top two in recent weeks, Sale and Sedgley Park, they were poor in Saturday's 27-16 defeat at South Leicester.

He lamented: "It was a massive underachievement down there. South Leicester away was a game we had to target. It wasn't a good feeling after the game."

Dale were 8-0 up after six minutes but failed to build on that good start and Baldwin explained: "There were lapses in concentration at key moments of the game which gave them a chance and they took it.

"They started to gain the upper hand and were in the ascendency at the breakdown. They really controlled that and that's where they targeted the game. We clearly came second best."

Baldwin will assume the director of rugby role at the club next season, but having played occasionally in the first team this year, he admitted: "If we need a guy to sit on the bench, I'm not going to step away and say I'm not available.

"I've still got that competitive edge and I want to win.

"There's no way I'd be able to step completely away from the game and get dragged round the shops on a Saturday afternoon with the wife!"