JUSTIN Merritt says the memory of last year’s dream run has filled him with hope as they prepare to take on Sky Bet League Two high-fliers Tranmere Rovers.

City beat Colchester United in the first round of the Emirates FA Cup 12 months ago, before a heartbreaking last-minute defeat at Notts County denied them a place in the third round draw alongside Premier League clubs.

Director of football Merritt was on the bench with boss Mark Jones last weekend following the departure of assistant Joe Deeney.

And, although he knows City will be clear underdogs at Prenton Park, he is aware last year’s exploits are proof that league status means very little.

“This is a free hit for us at a league team,” said Merritt.

“If we can nullify Tranmere’s threat in the first 20 minutes or so, funny things can happen as we saw last year.

“I am confident that the boys can express themselves and we can get a result – we’re certainly not going up there to make up the numbers.”

Merritt believes City’s youthful squad are still improving, but they are consciously going in the right direction.

He said: “We have a young, gifted side, players that are technically very good, good on the ball and possess a lot of the attributes you need to be successful.

“We have the likes of Josh Ashby and Reece Fleet, who are becoming a tremendous midfielder pair too, and have bags of pace.

“We know we have lots to learn, but we are learning, we can improve and use this squad as a platform for the future.”