Chris Beech says he will come up against one of the best managers outside the Premier League when he goes up against his old colleague Keith Hill tonight.

The former Rochdale duo are back on opposite sides when Hill’s Tranmere face Carlisle United at Brunton Park (kick-off 7pm).

It is the latest game in United’s bid to reignite their promotion push against a Rovers side who are also firmly in the race.

While the Blues are hoping to make up ground from ninth position, Hill’s side are two points ahead in sixth.

Beech, who assisted the experienced Hill for several years at Spotland, says his former colleague is a top-class operator.

“It’s strange that he’s been at Rochdale twice, Barnsley, Bolton and now Tranmere – five situations and he’s probably never inherited one that’s on a crest of a wave to get the opportunity," Beech said.

“I helped and worked with him, and I would say – and I did at the time – that he’s one of the best managers outside the Premier League.”

United will face a side who have climbed into promotion contention in recent weeks as they seek an immediate return to League One.

The Wirral outfit were controversially relegated by a marginal points-per-game calculation when the 2019/20 campaign was curtailed.

Beech said Carlisle’s opponents still have third-tier strengths. He said: “Let’s be right, under Micky Mellon’s reign, had they dug in hard at the end of the season they were probably not getting relegated.

"It’s ifs, buts and maybes, but they were winning games at that point and other clubs were really struggling for wins [before Covid-19 halted the season], yet the points-per-game kicks in and they’re out of League One.

“So they’re in League Two. And really they’re a League One team.

“They still have many of those players who were picking up those points and they’re very good.

“We’ll need to concentrate and be at our best to compete with them. It’s a massive challenge for us.”

Tranmere, who beat Carlisle 1-0 at Prenton Park earlier in the season, recently won five league games in a row before a defeat and a draw in their last two.

United, meanwhile, are seeking a first win since they returned from their recent Covid and weather-enforced interruptions.

Beech hopes his side can build on their efforts which earned a point at Salford City on Saturday.

He said: “We’ve got 21 opportunities and we know what we want to try and achieve.

“At the start of the season nobody would have had us anywhere near it but we’re doing well and the lads are ambitious, hungry and committed.

“They are giving everything and from now on it’s a case of Saturday-Tuesday; eat, sleep rest and repeat, that’s all you can do.

“We now have to do our best to create something we can tangibly touch. There are no guarantees other than we have 21 opportunities to repeat what we did in the first half of the season.

“When those opportunities are still there we are so hungry and ambitious to get the most out of all of them.”