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Papa Johns Trophy

Papa John's Trophy Final: Momentum is key, says MacDonald

10 March 2021

Winning the 2021 Papa John’s Trophy Final against Sunderland AFC could provide Tranmere Rovers with the perfect springboard to achieve further success says defender Calum MacDonald.

Keith Hill’s side have already beaten Sky Bet League One opposition in Peterborough United and Oxford United to reach the Final of the competition, and now look to get past another as they face high-flying Sunderland at Wembley Stadium in Sunday's Final.

“Sunderland are the type of outfit that we want to be playing against," he said, speaking exclusively to the EFL. 

"We have played a few teams from League One this season and beaten them, so we've definitely shown that we're good enough. 

“Beating Peterborough gave us a lot of confidence because they were top of League One at the time, we have a lot of lads in the dressing room that have played at a higher level and it’s great to have that experience around you."

MacDonald signed on a permanent basis for Tranmere recently, after a more than impressive loan spell from parent club Blackpool, and the youngster has his eyes firmly fixed on a league and cup double this season. 

“I signed here permanently in January because I really enjoy being at the club, I am loving every second and it's the first club that I’ve really been able to play regularly and constantly get minutes under my belt.

“With us heading in the right direction in terms of fighting for promotion was another big factor in signing as well."

Ahead of Sunday's Papa John's Trophy Final, Tranmere sit just two points off top in what is an incredibly close Sky Bet League Two promotion race. 

“It is a huge incentive for me to get promoted with this club and this competition could provide us with a lot of momentum to help us with that promotion push.”

The Birkenhead club certainly has fond memories of playing at Wembley Stadium, this being their fourth visit in five years, with a large contingent of the Super White Army christening the National Stadium as ‘Prenton Park South' after recent victories.

Sunday is a first EFL Trophy Final for Tranmere in 30 years however, and it's a competition that MacDonald holds in high regard having made his debut for Derby County U21s in the Group Stages in the 2016/17 campaign. 

“I made my debut in this competition for Derby County U21s," he continued. "It was a fantastic experience, that's the unique element of this competition, it gives youngsters a chance and that's important.

“It was a really valuable experience to play against EFL Clubs at the time, and it really helped me reach the level that I am at now."

The competition has also given him an opportunity that most footballers dream of, the chance to play at Wembley. 

“Every footballer’s dream is to play at Wembley at least once in your career, it is always an ambition to go there and play some of your best football. This is my first time there. 

“Going there and winning will make that experience even better for me, nobody wants to come back from Wembley on the losing side.” 

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