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Tranmere manager Micky Mellon has told Manchester United they cannot use the poor pitch as an excuse in their FA Cup fourth-round match at Prenton Park.
League One Rovers defeated Premier League Watford 2-1 on a heavily sanded surface on Thursday to book a home tie with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
The pitch – which Tranmere share with Liverpool Women – has been criticised.
“People get confused and think they’ve got to play on a different pitch. We’ll play on the same pitch,” Mellon said.
“What if it’s windy? What if it’s hailstones? Good players can adapt and adjust to anything, that’s what you expect of them.”
Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes apologised to Liverpool Women in December for calling the Prenton Park surface “a stain on their football club” after a 1-1 Women’s Super League draw at Prenton Park.
Tranmere’s third-round replay with Watford was initially postponed because of a waterlogged pitch; when it went ahead on Thursday, the surface included a number of bald patches, with both wings heavily sanded.
But Mellon said the players must adapt to the pitch.
He said: “They know what the outcome has got to be and that’s got to be trying to win a game of football and good players will find a way of doing that on any surface.”
United have lost four of their past seven matches, but with Tranmere third bottom in League One and three points adrift of safety, Mellon’s sympathy is in short supply.
He said: “For every football manager, I know how tough it is, regardless of where they are and what their situation is. We have different challenges and it’s tough for everybody.”
Solskjaer said his players need to be focused. He said: “The pitch is not great but that’s the same for both of us.
“The players just have to be focused and ready. There are divots everywhere. So everyone has just got to be focused, both for injuries but also, of course, the bounce of the ball.”
Tranmere expect strikers Morgan Ferrier and Paul Mullin to be available. Ferrier was withdrawn midway through the second half against Watford on Thursday, and his replacement Mullin was himself taken off before the end of extra-time.
Mullin returned to training on Friday while Mellon said Ferrier, who is managing an issue behind his knee, should be fine to play.
Midfielder Ollie Banks’ quad injury is likely to keep him out of action for another couple of weeks.
Manchester United will have defender Victor Lindelof available. The Sweden international missed the midweek loss to Burnley through illness, while Eric Bailly could make his long-awaited return from a knee injury.
Solskjaer is expected to rotate his squad but is short of a few options. Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay all remain sidelined, as do Marcos Rojo and Axel Tuanzebe, while Timothy Fosu-Mensah is stepping up his recovery.
- This will be the first FA Cup meeting between Tranmere Rovers and Manchester United, with the two clubs’ only previous contest in any competition coming in the 1976-77 League Cup second round. United won 5-0 at Old Trafford.
- Of all the clubs never to have played in the Premier League, none have knocked more top-flight sides out of the FA Cup than Tranmere (seven, level with Millwall).
- Rovers are looking to eliminate two Premier League clubs from the same FA Cup campaign for the first time since the 2000-01 season, when they knocked out Everton and Southampton.
- Manchester United have lost just one of their past 52 FA Cup matches against sides from outside of the top flight (W44 D7) – 0-1 at home to League One side Leeds United in the 2009-10 third round.
- Tranmere Rovers have reached the fourth round of the FA Cup for the first time since the 2003-04 season when they eventually reached the quarter-final. They have progressed from each of their past five fourth-round ties, last bowing out at this stage in 1994-95 against Wimbledon.
- Manchester United have progressed from 14 of their past 15 FA Cup fourth-round ties, with the exception a 2-1 away defeat at Liverpool in 2011-12.
Article courtesy of BBC Sport