Sky Bet League Two
Saturday 4 August
Stevenage vs Tranmere Rovers
Lamex Stadium (directions)
Tranmere Rovers embark on their first season back in the EFL on Saturday afternoon with a season opener at the Lamex Stadium against Stevenage.
Rovers’ last match at this level, at home against Bury in May 2015, seems a long time ago, but current manager Micky Mellon will be looking to build on the team’s success in gaining promotion last term.
Victory on the opening day of the season would be the perfect way to return to League action, but how possible is that going to be?
Stevenage finished in 16th position in League Two in 2017-18, and with Dino Maamria as their manager, you are sure they will pose a physical threat to Rovers on Saturday.
The Tunisian-born boss took over towards the end of last season, and he’ll be hoping that he can inspire his side to a better season than last as he looks to build a career as a manager in the EFL for the first time.
As mentioned in our season preview, there have been changes in personnel within the Tranmere squad over the summer. But has that weakened the squad?
Some key players have left, Andy Cook the most notable, but that gives an opportunity for others to step up to the plate.
Cole Stockton has arrived back at the club, and could well make his second debut for Rovers at the Lamex, while other newcomers goalkeeper Shamal George, defenders Mark Ellis, Manny Monthe and Zoumana Bakayogo, midfielder Ollie Banks and striker Paul Mullin could all be in contention to make their Tranmere bows too.
Liam Ridehalgh, infamously sent off in the play-off final at the end of last season, suffered a fractured knee cap making that red card challenge. He is suspended but will also be absent for a number of weeks yet with that injury.
Fellow defender Adam Buxton had a double hernia operation during the summer and he is still on the road to recovery, likewise is youngster Evan Gumbs who suffered a broken leg towards the end of last season.
Goalkeeper Scott Davies has missed a number of pre-season friendlies with a hip injury, but Micky Mellon declared him fine during the pre-match press conference this week, so it will be interesting to see if he gets the nod in between the sticks ahead of loanee George.
Midfielder Ollie Norburn is an injury doubt, having missed the final friendly against Rochdale last week with a shin injury in training.