Steve Burr has assured Chester FC supporters his team will be under no illusions over how much this weekend’s game against Tranmere Rovers means to them.
The Blues have a point to prove after a lacklustre performance in what was the first competitive meeting between the clubs in almost a quarter of a century in September.
Tranmere eased to a 2-0 victory on that occasion and the play-off chasers are confident of completing a double on Sunday but Burr expects his side to give a far better account of themselves this time around.
The 55-year-old insists his players will understand the magnitude of the game and expects the final training session to be fierce with starting places at stake.
“Without a shadow of a doubt we’ll be up for it and if you can’t get up for a game like that then you might as well not be playing,” said Burr.
“It’s a great one for the fans, it’s close to a sell-out already and it will be a fantastic atmosphere.
“It’s going to be similar to the Wrexham game isn’t it where there’s two clubs who are close together and it will be great for the fans with bragging rights and all those sort of things.
“I wouldn’t say it’s as big as the Wrexham game because I know how much that means to the Chester fans and that’s no disrespect to Tranmere because they’re a big club who have obviously got aspirations of getting out of this division and a very experienced squad.
“But it’s one of them where if I’m a player I would want to be in the gaffer’s face and telling him I want to play in front of 5,000 people.”
Sixth-placed Tranmere lost 1-0 at home to leaders Cheltenham Town last weekend but prior to that Gary Brabin’s side had won six from eight matches.
Rovers welcome back Steve Jennings from suspension but ex-Chester City midfielder Jay Harris, arguably man of the match when the Blues lost at Prenton Park, misses out after he picked up his 10th booking of the campaign.
Ryan Higgins and James Alabi, who came off the bench to spark a comeback in the 2-2 draw at Kidderminster Harriers last time out , are pushing to start for Chester.
Alabi opened his account with a stunning equaliser and the powerful forward could be partnered with top scorer Ross Hannah, who has 19 goals for the season.
Burr said: “It’s been frustrating for us and James because he picked up a groin injury in training a week after we brought him in so it’s been really frustrating for the lad and obviously for us because we want to get him out there and we know that’s what he’s capable of doing.”
Luke George (hamstring) won’t be involved but Burr has a selection dilemma with youngsters Danny O’Brien, Ryan Lloyd and Sam Hughes having strong claims to keep the more experienced Craig Mahon, Johnny Hunt and John Rooney out of the side while Nyal Bell could come onto the bench after the on-loan Rochdale striker scored twice in the midweek Cheshire Senior Cup win against Warrington Town .