AARON CRESSWELL has the opportunity to reclaim the left-back slot in the Tranmere side in this weekend – and manager Les Parry is urging the youngster to seize it with both hands.
Cresswell is lined up for a recall in the League One encounter with Oldham Athletic at Prenton Park on Saturday because Zoumana Bakayogo, the man who kept him out of the side since October, is suspended.
The French defender must serve a one match ban after being sent off for two bookable offences in the 1-1 draw at Charlton Athletic last Saturday.
Parry said: “This is an opportunity for Aaron to take his chance. If Aaron comes in and does well, then Zoum could be the one sitting on the bench.”
Cresswell, a 20-year-old prospect who graduated through Tranmere’s youth development system, began the season as a first-team regular, making 13 seniors starts under former manager John Barnes.
But by early October, Liverpool-born Cresswell’s form was beginning to falter and Bakayogo, recently recruited by Barnes, stepped in.
Parry said: “By bringing Aaron back into the side against Oldham, it is not as if we are fitting a square peg into a round hole. He’s an excellent player and started the season off very well.
“Unfortunately he had a little dip in form. That happens a lot with young players. Aaron recognised it himself and John Barnes explored the possibility of using other players in that position, just to give Aaron a rest.
“It just so happens that Zoum’s paperwork came through a few days after I took over as manager and I was able to bring Zoum in and give Aaron the rest he needed.
“Zoum has done ever so well and as everyone is seen, when we play well, I tend to leave the team as it is. So if Aaron does well on Saturday then, as Marlon Broomes has found out, Zoum could be the one waiting for the chance to get back into the side.”
Cresswell made his breakthrough into first-team football with Tranmere last season, playing more than half a dozen games as a deputy for regular left-back Andy Taylor. When Taylor departed to Sheffield United in the summer, Cresswell secured the left-back spot for himself.
Bakayogo was initially recruited on a short-term contract which ran until the end of December. He then signed an extension that ties him to Prenton Park was all the end of the season.
Meanwhile, frontman Craig Curran insists Rovers have become confident about taking points off whoever they play. They take on Oldham on the back of an impressive 1-1 with promotion-chasing Charlton last Saturday.
“Every game is a big game as far as we are concerned and we’ve just got to take each one as it comes,” Curran said. “It doesn’t matter who we play and it doesn’t matter where we’re playing.”
Curran added: “I knew we were good enough to get out of trouble when we were going through a rough patch earlier in the season.
“It was just a case of getting it right and Les Parry has come in with his coaching staff and we’ve done that.”