Tranmere Rovers will be looking to pick up their first piece of silverware on Sunday afternoon, when they take on League One side Sunderland in the final of the Papa John’s Trophy at Wembley Stadium.
Keith Hill’s side are currently sat fourth in the League Two table, and will fancy their chances of winning promotion into the third-tier of English football this term.
They head into this one off the back of a 2-0 win over struggling Southend United, and they’ll be looking to pull of a shock win against Lee Johnson’s promotion-chasing team.
Sunderland are sat fourth in the League One table, and will head into this one full of confidence after beating Portsmouth 2-0 at Fratton Park in midweek.
Speaking exclusively to Football League World’s Jacob Potter, former Tranmere Rovers player Pat Nevin praised Hill’s side for their achievements so far this season, after falling out of the Football League not so long ago.
“I am continuously stunned by what Tranmere are doing in the last two or three years. It’s been a long drop down from where we were. I was there five years, and we were on the cusp of the Premier League and we were really close. We were in the semi-final of the cup against Aston Villa, who were a team that could slog it out with the best. To fall as far as the club fell, all the way into the National League, it was torture to watch that for a club that I really love.
“But how quickly and how strongly they got together and stayed together with their two promotions in a row, that was an outstanding thing to do. There are many clubs that drop out of the Football League, and stay out for a long time. That could have happened to Tranmere, so the fact that they’ve done as well as they have, to get to where they are now, is absolutely extraordinary.”
Keith Hill will be without James Vaughan through injury, with the forward missing their last three matches in this year’s campaign. He also has hit 21 goals in all competitions for the League Two side, and will leave a sizeable void in attack for their clash with the Black Cats at Wembley this weekend.
Nevin went on to highlight Vaughan’s absence as a concern for Tranmere heading into the game, before admitted that he’s been surprised by the club’s progress in recent years.
“The fact that they’ve got a chance of maybe even doing it again, that would be amazing. Sometimes you can go through a period of too fast and too quickly, but with the Rovers it seems to be really well-organised. I think it’s been an amazing season. Obviously it makes a difference when your striker (James Vaughan) is injured and that could make a big difference, but bringing Nugent in could make the difference if he scores some goals and that could help.
“It’s a tough one now that James Vaughan is injured, not just for this game, but for a while after that. Every time you go up, you should honestly be thinking consolidate, ‘make sure we’re okay and don’t get relegated’, and then you can look forward. They’ve done a bit better than that!”
Kevin Phillips/Pat Nevin will be a studio guest for Quest’s highlights of the Papa John’s Trophy Final on Sunday. Stream on discovery+