Football: Tranmere aim to stay in control

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The Independent Online
TRANMERE ROVERS can attain some measure of relief from their poor start to the First Division season if they claim the significant scalp of the Premiership's Coventry City in the Worthington Cup tonight.

John Aldridge's side take a remarkable 5-1 first leg lead to Highfield Road courtesy of David Kelly's hat-trick, but their midweek heroics were put into context when they came down to earth with a resounding bump with a 4-2 home defeat at the hands of Portsmouth on Saturday.

Tranmere are bottom of the First Division and the club's assistant manager, Kevin Sheedy, said: "If we defend like we did on Saturday then we will certainly put ourselves under a lot of pressure.

"We will approach the game as though it were 0-0 and go out to try and win it."

Tranmere will be without the striker Wayne Allison, who is cup-tied, and on-loan Everton midfielder Tony Grant, while Georges Santos serves the final game of his three-match ban.

Gordon Strachan's side face a monumental task to haul themselves back into the tie, and Sunday's 3-2 defeat at Tottenham will have done little to lift their spirits.

Leicester City know they have no margin for error after their 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace a week ago. Pegguy Arphexad will continue in goal in place of Tim Flowers, but Steve Coppell's side will be keen to make the most of the boardroom unrest at Filbert Street and claim a Premiership scalp.

Derby will attempt to rebound from a 5-0 drubbing by Sunderland at Pride Park on Saturday by seeing off Third Division Swansea following a 0-0 draw in Wales. The Rams' manager, Jim Smith, said: "I've laid it on the line to the players that they let down themselves, me, the club and the fans."

His Bradford City counterpart, Paul Jewell, has three injury problems as he prepares his side for the trip to Reading with the tie all square at 1-1. The midfielder Neil Redfearn is absent with an ankle injury while defender Darren Moore (hamstring) and striker Lee Mills (thigh) are also doubtful.

Blackburn could draft in five replacements for their return leg against Portsmouth as they take a 3-0 lead back to Ewood Park. Nathan Blake is likely to replace Egil Ostenstad in attack, while Darren Peacock will come in for Craig Short at centre-half. The Rovers manager, Brian Kidd, could also hand Ewood Park debuts to Steve Harkness and Wayne Gill, while the Republic of Ireland international goalkeeper, Alan Kelly, will start in place of John Filan.

Shaun Taylor is likely to miss Bristol City's tie with Nottingham Forest with a groin problem, with Andrew Jordan set to deputise. Forest, who lead 2-1, will be without their on-loan striker, West Ham's Ian Wright, and have doubts over Riccardo Scimeca (knee), Jon Olav Hjelde (leg), Steve Chettle (back) and Salvatore Matrecano (back).

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