Teenage defender Luke O'Brien will be thrust into the FA Cup spotlight on Saturday.

Stuart McCall will cover Paul Heckingbottom's one-game ban at left back by handing O'Brien his first start.

The 19-year-old, from Halifax, appeared in three pre-season friendlies but his only other appearance was as a second-half substitute at Doncaster in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

McCall, though, is confident that O'Brien will prove up to the task of shackling Tranmere's dangerous winger Chris Shuker.

"As a one-to-one defender, he is excellent," said the City boss. "The little thing that lets Luke down is his distribution at times but he deserves his chance.

"I had it my mind straight after Hecky got sent-off that Luke would be playing this week.

"He's a smashing lad who has done well in the reserves, he's got a great attitude and I've no worries about throwing him in.

"He'll give us everything he's got and I'm looking forward to seeing him. Even when he joins in with the first team, he's talking and feels part of it and he's had a few months training with us regularly now.

"Luke's not the tallest but he's got decent pace and he's a good defender."

McCall's hand has been forced by the number of players forced out of contention. As well as the suspended Heckingbottom, he is also missing Eddie Johnson, Mark Bower, Alex Rhodes and Simon Ainge with injuries and Nicky Law is once again barred from playing by Sheffield United.

But McCall will not use that as an excuse to make too many changes after agreeing to shell out the £3,000 fine City received for fielding an under-strength side in the Doncaster tie.

He added: "I said to Julian (Rhodes) I'd pay it out of my own pocket over the next six months. I'm not happy about it but I'm as good as my word!

"But no, there's no way I will resting anyone for the weekend.

"I watched Tranmere's game with Chesterfield in the last round and you couldn't tell who was in League One or in League Two. We've got to be like that and be up and at them all over the pitch.

"It's a game we're desperate to win and make progress in the FA Cup and we also want to keep our little run going. Confidence is growing and if we can get through, it brings more money into the club."

Tranmere's form has tailed off since the draw was made three weeks ago and the goals have dried up but McCall refuses to under-estimate the challenge facing his side.

"Tranmere have got players who are well capable of raising their game. Gareth Taylor and Chris Greenacre's scoring record over the seasons is very good and they are playing at a level above.

"But I'm really looking forward to it and I'm sure we'll be at it from the word go."

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