City coach previews visit of Tranmere to the ParkDespite Tranmere Rovers sitting level on points with second-bottom team Carlisle United, Exeter City coach Garry Haylock isn’t expecting anything other than a tough challenge this weekend when the Merseysiders arrive at St James Park.
Having been relegated last summer for the first time in over a decade, Rovers’ ambitions of bouncing back into League 1 at the first attempt began to look particularly slim when they fell to the foot of the table in mid-October.
The Grecians were 2-1 winners earlier in the season at Prenton Park, beginning a spell of five consecutive losses for the club – a period which also saw the dismissal of former Exeter assistant Rob Edwards.
Now under Micky Adams, Tranmere are on a four-game unbeaten run and have won half of their last eight fixtures in Sky Bet League 2 – so Haylock knows that the Grecians will have to have their wits about them to secure a win.
“Tranmere signed a couple of players yesterday, one of which was on loan – we’ve got an idea of what they’ve done previously, and they do have a couple of long-term injuries,” said Haylock.
“Micky Adams’ teams are always motivated and always difficult to play against. It is certainly going to be no easy ride home or away against them.
“Tis was at Southampton with Micky and he understands what he is about. They will be fired up and they are a good side as well.
“Rob Edwards was there and he signed a few good players, and the ones they have brought in recently have done well as well. They tend to play with width and pace and they are physically strong. That would suggest they are going to be a different proposition.
“They have lost a couple of games recently, but that’s no suggestion that they are a poor side. They are a difficult side to beat.”
Exeter go into the weekend after claiming four points from back-to-back away fixtures against Mansfield and Oxford – a return that leaves them sitting in a healthier position at present than may have been feared after consecutive home losses against Northampton and Accrington.
And while the Grecians haven’t necessarily been at their purest during those two encounters on the road, Haylock feels that securing points in spite of circumstances can be viewed as a positive.
He continued: “The sign of a really good sign is that they can play badly and win. Those are the teams that win leagues – Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United have done that in the past.
“It bodes well for us, and hopefully the work that we have done this week will help us to kick on and we’ll go again.”
The strains of the season takes its toll on every club, and Paul Tisdale and his coaching staff will need to wait a little while longer before knowing what the starting XI will be for Saturday’s meeting.
Aside from long-term absentee Pat Baldwin and the players out on loan, there are no other players that are definitely ruled out with injury – though there are a number that aren’t certain to be available either.
“I think we’ll still be going down right to the wire,” said Haylock of the team selection. “There aren’t many players that have said they are definitely are available or that they are definitely not. We’ll assess them in the morning.
“Scot Bennett and David Noble came off last week, and Clinton Morrison and Jamie McAllister are coming back. They’ve all picked up knocks and bruises – none have been counted in or out yet.”