Tranmere Rovers boss Micky Mellon has a few decisions to make ahead of his side’s trip to Rotherham United this weekend.
At least three changes to the starting XI must be made by the Rovers manager after Corey Blackett-Taylor and Ollie Banks were both sent off in our last fixture at Bristol Rovers and Morgan Ferrier has been ruled out with a knee injury.
There are still a number of players in the treatment room too, but let’s have a look at how Tranmere might set up at the New York Stadium…
On the road so far this season, Rovers have set up in a 4-2-3-1-type formation, which, when we don’t have the ball, switches to a 4-5-1.
The manager likes his squad to be adaptable, able to adapt to the different systems opposition teams may play and to counteract the issues they may pose.
The Millers have used a 4-3-3 formation this term, so might we see a move to playing three at the back? It would be a bold move, but we’ve seen in the past that Micky is not afraid to make such changes if he feels that will give the team the best opportunity to win the game.
However, I feel we’ll likely see Rovers in that 4-2-3-1 system once more given the options available.
Scott Davies will start in goal. The manager doesn’t have a plethora of options with the backline, so it’s unlikely to be altered from that Bristol Rovers game with Kane Wilson and Liam Ridehalgh in the full-back positions and George Ray partnering Manny Monthe in the heart of defence.
There is an argument to put Sid Nelson into the side. He built a good partnership with Monthe at the end of last season, but with the selections from the start of the season, it appears that Ray is ahead of him in the pecking order.
Ollie Banks is suspended, so there’s an opportunity for someone to come in and try and secure a place in the side with a good performance. So who will play alongside David Perkins?
There’s a couple of options. Rovers could go with experience in Darren Potter, or a more youthful and energetic approach with Harvey Gilmour.
Against his former club, Potter might be the man to bring in for this occasion. Not because it’s a game against his ex-teammates, but his experience might be a useful factor away from home, he’s right-footed to Perkins being left-footed which provides a bit of balance, and if the fact of the game being against his old club raises his level a bit more, then all well and good.
Looking at the three players behind a central striker, there are plenty of options available to Micky Mellon. Corey Blackett-Taylor will miss out due to his misdemeanours at Bristol Rovers, with Connor Jennings and Kieron Morris the other two players who have operated in those roles recently.
I’d expect Jennings and Morris will both start, but who takes that other spot? Here are the possible candidates.
Gilmour could easily play higher up the pitch and gives great energy as well as possessing the ability to go past a defender and create opportunities.
Rushian Hepburn-Murphy might be another to consider. We’ve not seen a great deal of him so far in a Tranmere shirt, but he looks to have good pace and a direct approach which may fit the number 10 role.
Then, you may be able to throw into the mix Jacob Maddox. The on-loan Chelsea man has yet to feature, and certainly isn’t match fit having not played, but appears to be a player who could fit in the side in that role.
In the central striker role, you would have to thought Morgan Ferrier would have started but it’s been reported today that he will miss the next eight weeks with a knee ligament injury! More bad news on the injury front! It doesn’t rain but it pours.
Paul Mullin and Stefan Payne come into the thinking to replace Ferrier, while Hepburn-Murphy could also be considered, although given his age and experience, a ‘lone striker’ role may not suit him as well as the others, despite the fact he’ll be ably supported by the three players behind.
If you have any thoughts on who should be starting for Rovers this weekend, or which system you’d like to see Micky Mellon operate, please Tweet us @roversrearguard.