THE BIG MATCH

The npower League 1 fixtures for October get underway with an intriguing encounter at Prenton Park between the league leaders Tranmere Rovers and Scunthorpe United, who are struggling at the bottom.

The Iron currently sit two points above the relegation zone in 19th place and boss Alan Knill has revealed his squad have no fresh injury concerns from the weekend.

Goalkeeper Sam Slocombe is available for selection after recovering from a dead leg that saw him substituted on Saturday against Portsmouth. There could also be a return for Paul Reid and Callum Kennedy.

Irish duo Jordan Keegan and Mark Hughes could also feature after impressing the Iron's boss in training.

"I think they have settled in well," he told www.scunthorpe-united.co.uk. "Obviously they missed the whole of pre-season so they were a little way behind.

"But they are getting there now, we believe they are both going to be good players and are ones for the future. But we have to be careful how we manage them, both on and off the pitch."

Top of the table Tranmere will go into the game brimming with confidence after remaining unbeaten so far.

But Rovers boss Ronnie Moore looks set to be forced into making changes ahead of Tuesday night's away fixture at Scunthorpe United.

Three of his side picked up knocks in the 1-1 draw against Brentford on Saturday and remain doubtful for the game.

Moore told www.tranmererovers.co.uk: "Wallace [James] is extremely doubtful, I'll be very surprised if he plays.

"Robbo [Andy Robinson] is carrying a groin strain so he's probably 60:40 that he won't play. We'll leave that until the last minute and he won't train this morning.

"Ben Gibson got a whack on his calf and that's really tight so we're sweating on that at the minute and we'll have to leave him until the last minute.

"This gives the lads who have had to sit out the opportunity. If they come in and do well and we get the result then they stay in."

KEEP AN EYE ON

Another game on Tuesday night sees two teams go head-to-head with an 11-point gap between them - some distance at this early stage of the campaign.

Coventry City take on Milton Keynes Dons at the Ricoh Arena one point away from the relegation zone with the Dons four points from the summit.

The Sky Blues are yet to win at home this season but picked up their first victory last time out, against Oldham Athletic.

Boss Mark Robins is left with a bit of a selection dilemma, though, as midfielder John Fleck could return and make his first start since being injured in the opening game of the season.

One player that could miss out is Kevin Kilbane, who has sat out of the last two games with a pulled hamstring.

The match will be Robins' fourth game in charge and he has been impressed with his side's attitude in training. "I think the players have now properly introduced themselves to each other since the win," he told www.ccfc.co.uk.

"Their heads are high and you can see a notable change in the squad. Hopefully we can carry that through to the next game and like I say, we have two home games now which is a great opportunity for us to play against two good sides."

Visiting MK Dons will be hoping they can keep their away form rolling after winning at Bury in their last away fixture.

But boss Karl Robinson is not going into the game thinking it will be easy: "They've got a good manager, good players, a fantastic stadium they're just not having the rub of the green," he told www.mkdons.com.

"I'm sure at some stage it will click and they'll definitely be competing to get into the top half and maybe push for the Play-Offs in the latter part of the season.

"The Ricoh has a massive pitch with lots of room to express yourself so we've got to go there and do what we do best and that's play football and entertain our fans."

With the injured Jimmy Bullard announcing his retirement from football on Monday, the only injury worry is defender Gary MacKenzie who is struggling with a groin problem.

It could mean that Antony Kay and Shaun Williams continue in the centre of the Dons defence while Adam Chicksen will be hoping to keep his place on the right ahead of Jon Otsemobor.

Charlie MacDonald scored the decisive goal against Crewe Alexandra last time out in the Dons 1-0 win and is expected to lead the line against Coventry.

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

Brentford host Shrewsbury Town at Griffin Park with Bees boss Uwe Rosler having no fresh injury concerns.

The Shrews are yet to win on the road this season and will be hoping to improve on last weekend's 1-0 home defeat to Swindon Town.

Brentford, meanwhile, will want to build momentum having drawn with league leaders Tranmere Rovers last time out - a result that stretched their unbeaten record to three matches.

An interesting game at Gigg Lane sees new Bury boss Kevin Blackwell take charge of his first home game, against Carlisle United.

Blackwell's opening match in charge of the Shakers ended well at the weekend, with Mark Cullen scoring late on to salvage a point against high-flying Stevenage.

They will be tested against the Cumbrians, who have looked good on the road so far - picking up seven points from a possible 12.

Elsewhere, Crawley Town take on Bournemouth and Crewe Alexandra welcome Oldham Athletic to Gresty Road. The Railwaymen are without a win in five, but have only lost one of those games, with four ending level.

It is 10th versus ninth as Doncaster Rovers play Preston North End at the Keepmoat Stadium. The Rovers have played just three times at home this campaign and will be hoping to get the win against a Preston side that has won just once on the road.

Hartlepool United line up against Sheffield United in search of a much-needed three points as the Pools sit second from bottom on six points. The Blades, on the other hand, are yet to lose this term and sit just outside the Play-Off places on 15 points.

Notts County take on Stevenage, with Swindon Town at home to Colchester United, Walsall play Leyton Orient and Yeovil Town, who have lost their last five, welcome Portsmouth to Huish Park.

Pompey are fresh off the back of a morale-boosting victory against Scunthorpe United - debutant striker Wes Thomas earning the South Coast club all three points with a last-gasp winner.

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