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Thursday, 25 January, 2001, 09:34 GMT
Smith's Tranmere warning
Walter Smith
Walter Smith is aware of Tranmere's threat
Everton boss Walter Smith - in an exclusive BBC Sport Online interview - looks ahead to the "other" Merseyside derby as Tranmere Rovers make an FA Cup visit to Goodison Park.

Walter Smith is a veteran of the unique demands of the local derby - whether it is Rangers against Celtic or Everton against Liverpool.

The Everton manager makes it a treble when Tranmere Rovers come to Goodison Park for an intriguing FA Cup fourth round tie.

It has long been regarded as the "other derby", a fantasy football match for Tranmere fans longing for the opportunity to ditch the tag as Merseyside's poor relations.

Everton and Tranmere Rovers are separated by the Mersey, and have often lived in different football worlds, but Smith is aware of the passion John Aldridge's men will bring to Goodison Park on Saturday.

Aldridge's side have proved capable of putting indifferent league form behind them when the cup competitions come around.

Abel Xavier
Xavier could be back
Tranmere reached The Worthington Cup Final last season, losing to Leicester City at Wembley, and claimed West Ham United as victims in the FA Cup.

Smith watched Tranmere beat Leeds United in The Worthington Cup this season, so he is well aware of their threat.

And he told BBC Sport Online: "Tranmere have had some great results against Premier League opposition.

"Tranmere are a team who can always get up for big cup games. John's team always has a spirit and determination, and that is what we must match.

"We are expecting a really good challenge. It is a local derby, and Tranmere can call on the memories of successes against Premier League teams in the past.

"As soon as the draw was made, John Aldridge told his players they had to keep performing in the league to make sure they played against us. We know how much this means to them."


John Aldridge's team always has a spirit and determination, and that is what we must match
  Everton manager Walter Smith
Aldridge was angry that much of Tranmere's success last season was overshadowed by the attention lavished on long throw specialist Dave Challinor.

Smith said: "I could understand John's frustration because there was a lot more to their game. And any manager will tell you that if they had a potent weapon like that, they would use it at every opportunity.

"Tranmere, like ourselves, have been disrupted by injuries this season.

"And when you are working in circumstances like John, when there is understandably not a lot of money to spend in the transfer market, then he will probably find that even harder to deal with than we have."

Everton's own spirits were lifted by an excellent win at Coventry City on Saturday - and Smith may be boosted by the return of some of his own injured troops.

He said: "Abel Xavier and Richard Gough may be in contention, while Duncan Ferguson is seeing a specialist about his broken hand, and may have a chance.

"Kevin Campbell makes a massive difference to us all round when he is fit, and he made a great contribution at Coventry.

"It would be nice to have him and big Duncan fit at the same time, because it just hasn't happened this season.

John Aldridge
Aldridge - incentive
"We have not had Campbell, Ferguson and Francis Jeffers fit at the same time together, and the effect that has had on us can be seen on our goalscoring charts.

"I think our all-round performances have been pretty good, apart from the second half at Sunderland and the entire match at Manchester City.

"But it is difficult to overcome the loss of all your strikers, and that has been our difficulty."

Everton will also have Thomas Gravesen, Stephen Hughes and Joe-Max Moore back after suspension.

And Smith knows he will need as many of his forces as possible on hand if Tranmere's challenge is to be kept at bay.

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