Watford v Tranmere Team News

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Watford assistant Craig Shakespeare says Saturday's FA third-round tie with Tranmere is an "opportunity" for the club's fringe players to shine.

The Hornets were finalists in last season’s tournament under Javi Gracia, going down 6-0 to Manchester City. However last term their cup run dovetailed with some decent Premier League performances but the same cannot be said for the present.

Shakespeare has come in to work with Nigel Pearson as the pair look to guide the club away from the relegation places.

Collecting 10 points from the last 12 available has moved Watford within touching distance of safety and survival is clearly their priority for the campaign.

Therefore, several unfamiliar faces are expected to line up against Rovers as the usual XI are wrapped in “cotton wool” following the Christmas fixture pile-up.

The club website has suggested that Pontus Dahlberg, Dan Bachmann, Domingos Quina, Andre Gray, João Pedro, Tom Dele-Bashiru, Isaac Success, José Holebas, Joe Hungbo, Callum Whelan and Sam Dalby will all see some minutes.

Tom Cleverley, Daryl Janmaat, Sebastian Prödl and Danny Welbeck are definitely out, although Adrian Mariappa is back available following suspension.

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League One Tranmere travel to Vicarage Road on the back of a 4-1 defeat to Coventry and could again be without Liam Ridehalgh, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Manny Monthe, with goalkeeper Scott Davies also sidelined.

With Davies a doubt, Aaron Chapman could continue to deputise while George Ray and Calum Woods may also start.

Micky Mellon’s Rovers also find themselves in relegation danger, sat 21st in League One after taking just a point from the last nine available.

The Birkenhead-club lost 7-0 to Tottenham at this stage of last season’s FA Cup and have plenty of history in this competition having reached the quarter-finals in three years out of five between 2000 and 2004, while they also reached the EFL Cup final in 2000.

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