Bolton visit Prenton Park with just two senior players


Tranmere Rovers are back in Sky Bet League One action this weekend as Bolton Wanderers are the visitors to Prenton Park.

Still looking for the first points of the season, Micky Mellon will be looking at this fixture as a good opportunity to get off the mark.


Bolton have had some well publicised problems over the past few months, beginning the season on -12 points after going into administration.

At time of writing, the Lancashire club remain hopeful of a takeover going through to bring some stability to the University of Bolton Stadium.

Manager Phil Parkinson has a young squad to work with, with only two senior players available for the clash at Prenton Park this weekend.

The latest senior player to depart from the club is Erhun Oztumer who has joined Charlton Athletic, leaving just Jason Lowe and Luke Murphy as the only remaining outfield players with any real first team experience amongst them.

Parkinson has had to select from a group largely made up of players from the club’s Under-18 and Under-23 set-ups for the opening three games of the season, and his young squad have performed admirably.

Wanderers fell to a 2-0 defeat on the road against Wycombe Wanderers on the opening weekend of the league season, but picked up a very creditable 0-0 draw at home to Coventry City last Saturday.

Their Carabao Cup first round tie on Tuesday night resulted in an early exit, losing 5-2 away at Rochdale.


Micky Mellon will again be without striker Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, who serves the final match of his three-game suspension following his sending off against Rochdale on the opening day of the season.

No further injuries were reported following the Hull City defeat in the Carabao Cup in midweek, but it will be interesting to see if the Rovers manager decides to revert back to a 4-4-2 system with Stefan Payne, Connor Jennings and Jordan Ponticelli potentially pushing for a recall to partner Morgan Ferrier.

On-loan Chelsea midfielder Jacob Maddox may also come into the reckoning. The 20-year-old has yet to make an appearance in a Tranmere shirt since his arrival at the club, but after a full week’s training, he may come into Mellon’s thoughts.

Long-term injury absentees Ishmael Miller, Evan Gumbs, Mark Ellis and Jake Caprice will once more be unavailable for selection.


It may be still very early in the season, but this game takes on a great deal of important for Tranmere.

For the supporters, it is a rivalry that goes back to the early 1990s, and so there is an added sense of importance from that point of view, but it is also vitally important that Rovers put their first points on the board.

The longer the search for the first point or victory of the season goes, the more difficult it will be.

Micky Mellon and the players will look at this fixture as a good opportunity to break that duck for the season against a side who will be under-strength due to the financial problems mentioned earlier in this piece.

There is a definite rivalry between these two clubs that goes back to the play-offs in 1991.

Bolton manager at the time Phil Neal believed his team had more right to gain promotion as they finished five points ahead of Rovers after the 46-game league season.

As it was, Chris Malkin’s extra-time winner at Wembley sent Tranmere into the Second Division (now Championship for younger readers).

There have been plenty of other great encounters between the sides too, including the Worthington Cup semi-final which Rovers won 4-0 on aggregate, Sam Allardyce choosing to not use the Prenton Park dressing room and his team getting changed on the bus on the way in.

That said, the two clubs have not been in the same division for some time and so the rivalry has, perhaps, dumbed down somewhat. The last time Rovers and Bolton played a league game was back in January 2001.

There will be a big crowd at Prenton Park for this one, with the visiting support really backing their side in this time of crisis, close to selling out their full allocation in the Cowsheds.

It should make for a fantastic atmosphere for a game that Rovers really need to be looking to get maximum points from.

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