JOHN BARNES admits he faces a delicate balancing act in attempting to inject some confidence back into the Tranmere side this week.
The Rovers manager has been critical of a lack of effort and commitment shown by the side during a run of four successive League One defeats.
But Barnes must continue to work with the same group of players because budget restrictions currently prevent him making further changes to the squad he put together during the summer.
Barnes said: “As we can’t change much we have to be careful about how we handle the players.
“We have to try to get the confidence back. Confidence is such a big thing in football. We don’t have much choice in terms of what we do with the players. We have to try to empower them, give them confidence.”
Barnes added: “We have to find the best way to make the players respond. There are those you can kick up the backside if they need it. But players are all different and there are those you have to put an arm around – even if they do deserve a kick up the backside. You have to be careful how you treat players.”
Barnes threatened to bring in some members of the youth squad into the side to show some desire after Tranmere slumped tamely to a 3-0 defeat at Carlisle last Saturday.
But the former Liverpool and England midfielder acknowledged the dangers of introducing youngsters to a side that has conceded 10 goals without reply in the last three league outings.
Barnes said: “Yes, we can bring some young players in but you are then bringing inexperienced youngsters into a team not playing with confidence – and that might not be good for them.
“It is easy bringing young players into a team that is playing well, with confidence, a team with talkers who are going to help them and take the pressure off them.
“But that is not the team we are at the moment. You could be pulling youngsters back by bringing them in now, no matter how good they are.”
Barnes added: “The responsibility is really on the senior players, in terms of taking the pressure off the younger players. We need the senior players here to be bigger and stronger.”
The manager is concerned that the emphatic 3-0 defeat at the hands of front runners Leeds United back on August 22 may have undermined confidence in the side after several encouraging performances earlier in the month.
He said: “The result and the performance in the game at Leeds hit us hard. Up until then if you look at the performances against Grimsby, Gillingham and even MK Dons, when we lost but should have won, the confidence was there.”
Barnes finally added Kithson Bain to the squad when the Grenada international striker began training with his new team-mates this week.
Bain, 27, is to be given a first outing in a Rovers shirt in the reserve team fixture at Blackpool tomorrow evening.
Barnes said: “Kithson has been training regularly but I don’t think he’s had much match practice since playing in the Gold Cup for Grenada a few weeks ago. We’ll have a look at him against Blackpool. It is good to have Kithson Ben and I think he can improve us.”