MANAGER Les Parry sought to put an end to the uncertainties about Tranmere’s last line of defence by signing the former Liverpool and Millwall goalkeeper Tony Warner on a permanent deal last night.
The 36-year-old, whose long career covers 341 appearances for more than a dozen English and Scottish league clubs, agreed a six month contract that will see him through to the end of Rovers League One campaign.
Parry also filled the right back spot, left vacant after injuries to Tim Cathalina and Max Blanchard this week, by signing Michael Kay on loan from Sunderland.
The much travelled Warner has been on short-term contracts with three clubs this year, Charlton Athletic, Leeds United and Scunthorpe, where he played two games in October.
More recently he has been staying in shape by training with Liverpool, where he spent the first nine years of his career without making a first-team appearance.
Parry said: “I’m delighted to be able to bring a goalkeeper as experienced as Tony to the club. He’s a quality goalkeeper who has played in the Premier League and at international level and he will improve our squad.
“He’s a local lad so won’t need much time to settle in and I look forward to working with him.”
Parry hopes Warner’s arrival can stabilise the goalkeeping position at Prenton Park. Rovers recruited Gunnar Nielsen on a half season loan from Manchester City in the summer but the Faroe Island International played only three games because of injury and illness.
The first team gloves were subsequently worn by Tranmere’s own 19-year-old prospect Joe Collister and by Peter Gulacsi, a young Hungarian on loan from Liverpool who played 11 games between September and November.
Parry said: “I had quite a few options but after the experience with Gunnar – which was no fault of his own – I wanted to bring in a keeper of our own.
“One of the things with on loan goalkeepers is the parent club want them to go back for a couple of days each week to be coached by their own people and our goalkeeping coach Simon Miotto isn’t always happy about that. So in the end I decided to get our own goalkeeper.”
Parry had words of encouragement for Collister, who earned praise for his performances in the New Year holiday games against Rochdale and Carlisle.
“Joe has done really well since stepping into the breach,” Parry said. “The development from that is should anything happen to Tony, and touch wood it won’t, we know Joe is there and how well he can play.
“But this is a massive month for us and we need that little bit of experience.”
Rovers had not been planning to sign a right back until Tim Cathalina suffered a serious calf injury during the 2-1 win over Carlisle on Monday and a versatile Frenchman Maxime Blanchard sustained ankle ligament damage in a training ground friendly against Wrexham on Wednesday.
Parry explained: “Tim came off in the Carlisle game with quite bad calf injury. He is going to be out for a number of weeks.
“We played Wrexham in a friendly and one of their lads went through Max, who may have snapped one of his ankle ligaments. He is on sticks and is going to be out for six weeks.
“So we have brought in Michael Kay from Sunderland.”
Kay, 21 has made only one FA Cup appearance for Sunderland since turning pro three years ago but played 10 games on loan to Conference club Gateshead earlier this season.
Warner and Kay can expect to make their debuts in Tranmere’s League One encounter with bottom club Walsall at Prenton Park tomorrow.
Parry has extended the loan of West Bromwich Albion midfielder Lateef Elford-Alliyu by a further month and is negotiating with Manchester United about extending the loan of defender Scott Wootton.
Tranmere will have Marlon Broomes available tomorrow after the defender completed a one-match suspension for his dismissal in the 3-2 defeat at Rochdale on New Year’s Day and Irish centre-back Mark McChrystal is clear to make his debut after Rovers received international clearance for the player’s transfer from Derry City.