Saturday sees another tough test for Tranmere, as Nigel Clough’s Burton Albion are the visitors to Prenton Park.
Only beaten twice so far this season, and currently on a seven-match unbeaten streak, Clough’s team are likely to be there or thereabouts in the shake up for promotion out of League One come the end of the season.
So, a difficult encounter ahead for Micky Mellon’s side, but can recent events for the visitors aid the task ahead?
What about fatigue?
Well, Albion have been on the road this week. Travelling down to Portsmouth in midweek may well be energy sapping by itself, but to make things worse, Burton played 65 minutes of the game with just 10 men.
A tough game, after a long journey, made even tougher.
They enjoyed less than 30% possession at Fratton Park, so there was a lot of chasing around for the nine remaining outfield players, which might possibly have an impact at the weekend.
They picked up a point from a 2-2 draw at Pompey, showing their defensive resilience throughout that long period where they were a man short, but fatigue almost certainly played a part in them conceding a last minute penalty which Brett Pitman despatched to deny The Brewers all three points.
And Saturday will be their second away trip of the week, albeit not as far as Portsmouth, but in the meantime, the Rovers team have had home comforts with two home fixtures in a row.
Obviously, the player sent off will be unavailable to play at Prenton Park this weekend, so Clough will be without the services of experienced midfielder John-Joe O’Toole.
Burton also have had their fair share of injuries at the beginning of the campaign, although news on that front appears to be more positive for Clough than it is for Mellon who continues to be without a number of players for the game, as you can read about here.
Jake Buxton, Colin Daniel, Liam Boyce and Nathan Broadhead were all involved at Fratton Park following lay-offs, so assuming they’ve come through unscathed, they’ll all be in contention for selection at Prenton Park.
Scott Fraser is another player who Clough has fitness concerns over. The midfielder was on the bench on Tuesday, but seemingly more through lack of numbers after a recent ankle injury to which the Burton boss referred as “we’re not sure about”.
When you’re fixated on one team, as we are with Tranmere, it’s easy to forget that similar problems are affecting other sides.
Whether this will have an impact on Saturday, only time will tell. But it’s certainly something for Micky Mellon and the management staff at Rovers to consider when contemplating their approach to the game.
Nonetheless, a game against a side in good form, as Burton are, will be difficult. Tranmere can take great heart from the display against Peterborough on Tuesday, and will be looking to perform as well as that to get a positive result from this weekend’s encounter.