Tranmere will be without Ollie Banks as they prepare to face Watford on Thursday evening in their long-anticipated FA Cup 3rd round replay at Prenton Park.

The popular midfielder, who had only just returned from a long injury lay-off, has pulled a quad muscle and is expected to be out of action for another three weeks.

Tickets are still available but almost 10,000 have been sold in anticipation of a cup upset, in what is a rearranged fixture after a combination of bad weather and the poor condition of Rovers' pitch meant the original replay was postponed.

Manager Micky Mellon is under no illusions of the challenge his side face. He said: “There a very good side. Regardless of whoever they say is going to play, you can’t get carried away with them saying that they’re going to make changes.

“Whoever they bring in, it will be 11 Premier League players so it will be a very tough game for us but one that we’re relishing and looking forward to the challenge of in front of a good crowd. We all know what the prize is so the stakes are high. There’s so much to play for.

“For us every game is massive in the rebuilding the football club. That we go out in these competitions and get good performances and results against these teams is really important to the fans of the football club.

“The opportunity to get through to the next round is huge but to able to go out and play against a Premier League team at Prenton Park underneath the floodlights should be very exciting. We’re hoping to perform well and get a result.”

Premier League Watford are expected to field a weakened side as they juggle a congested fixtures lists while prioritising their survivial in the top flight.

The Hornets have already played once this week, losing 2-1 away to Aston Villa on Tuesday evening.

Rovers will also be without new loan signing Alex Woodyard who is cup-tied.

The incentive for Tranmere to get a positive result could not be greater, as the winner of the replay will then face Manchester United at home in the fourth round three days later.

Mellon said: “We will go out there and give it everything that we’ve got because we know the size of the prize.

“We’re under no illusions that it’s going to be a tough game. If we can cause problems and be clinical then we have a chance.”