THE chance of climbing out of the League One relegation places for the first time since August should provide Tranmere with all the incentive they need for tomorrow’s visit to Southend United.
A second away victory of the season, at Gillingham in midweek, lifted Rovers to within one result of escaping the bottom four. Now, after spending more than five months in the division’s condemned cell, manager Les Parry and his players can see the door to an escape route is ajar.
Parry said: “I would like to think that the Gillingham result can be a springboard for us. Our away form performances have been decent but we’ve not been getting the rub of the green in terms of not taking our chances. Maybe now we are going to start getting the results our performances deserve.”
Tranmere hope to take advantage of the troubles afflicting their hosts on and off the field. Southend are just two points and five places better off than Rovers following a midweek defeat at Colchester United. Meanwhile the Shrimpers were granted a 28-day stay of execution by the High Court this week over an outstanding tax debt of £200,000. Southend, who cleared a £2.1million tax bill just three months ago, dispute the new claim from HM Revenue and Customs.
Even so, it is an uncomfortable situation for the Essex club. Last month they recruited striker Scott Vernon on a loan from Colchester that runs until the end of the season. Tranmere, sticking to a budget for players Parry believes to be the lowest in the division, were also interested in signing Vernon – but could not afford the terms of the loan and backed off.
Parry said: “We tried to get the lad Scott Vernon. But the money Colchester wanted for his wages and the length of time they wanted us to take him for made that impossible on our budget. So we did not do it.
“Southend came along and took him to the end of the season and took the financial hit on it. Then, a short time later, they are getting a 28-day reprieve in the High Court.
“Touch wood that would not happen here. We would not allow ourselves to be put in that position.”
Parry insists Tranmere’s prudence, sometimes criticised by supporters, is a “massive” virtue He said: “Of course it can be frustrating at times.
“We watch players and make inquiries about them, then when we find out how much they are on and how much the parent club want us to contribute to their wages, we know we can’t afford them.
“I don’t even bother to ask now because I know what our budget is.
“We have probably got the lowest wage bill in the division and it is strictly adhered to. I accept that.
“The way this club is run makes everyone’s job here secure. We have to look after all of the employees, not just players. There are a lot of other people who work at this club and depend on the wage and the job, so we have a responsibility to them as well.”
Chris McCready, the experienced defender Tranmere recruited on loan from Northampton last month, stands by to make his second appearance of the week at Southend.
McCready stepped into the side against Gillingham in place of Ian Goodison, who faces a late fitness test on an ankle injury tomorrow.
Ash Taylor is ruled out for up to three weeks with the hamstring injury he picked up in the first half at the Priestfield Stadium.
So Marlon Broomes, recalled to the side on Tuesday, is likely to play alongside McCready at the heart of the defence. Parry reckoned the pair were “outstanding” against the Gills.