TRANMERE took the tried and tested route in their attempts to add firepower to the attack by signing Lateef Elford Alliyu on loan from West Bromwich Albion.
The 19-year-old Nigerian was a success both as creative attacker and a five-goal marksman during a 17-game spell at Prenton Park last season.
The loan was cut short by a knee injury, sustained in a game against Bristol Rovers last March, that kept Elford Alliyu on the sidelines for seven months. He’s been back in action with Albion’s reserve team since October.
The new arrangement is initially for one month and starts with tonight’s re-arranged League One game against Rochdale at Prenton Park.
Manager Les Parry said: “Lateef had a very successful time with us last season. He did well and was a popular member of the squad.
“It is always good to bring in a loan player you already know.
“Settling in it won’t be difficult for Lateef. He knows the way we play and what is expected of him. We know he can score a goal and that is what we are looking for.
“There were a number of clubs after him but he was adamant he wanted to come back here.”
Elford Alliyu returns at a time when Tranmere have lost some attacking options, with Enoch Showunmi and Andy Robinson sidelined for at least a month, and goals are in short supply.
Elford Alliyu said: “I wanted to come back to Tranmere. I had a good time when I was here last season and hopefully I can help the team climb back up the table over the next month.
“After getting the injury last season I had a knee operation. I was out for seven months and it was a long seven months. But I’ve been back playing since October so I have had a few months of games and my knee is fine.”
Elford Alliyu said he kept in touch with Tranmere’s players after leaving Prenton Park 10 months ago. He added: “Hopefully I can help the lads put a few more points on the board. It would be good to get back to the way we were doing in the early part of this season.”
It is by no means certain that Elford Alliyu will be given a place in Tranmere’s starting line-up against Rochdale. Yesterday’s planned training session had to be moved indoors because of the cold weather and Parry said: “We were not able to do any work with Lateef so whether we start with him I’m not sure.”
Parry made a slight adjustment to Tranmere’s line-up and tactics in the 2-1 defeat at Yeovil last Saturday, deploying Ash Taylor in a deep lying midfield role.
The manager was encouraged by the number of scoring opportunities Rovers created – and frustrated that the majority were not taken.
“We’ve got to be more clinical,” Parry said. “We are making the chances to score. The statistics show that we have one of the highest totals in the division for shots at goal and we are among the teams scoring fewest goals. Either we are coming up against great goalkeepers every week or we are not testing the keepers – and unfortunately the second instance is true.
“I don’t believe in luck. Missing chances does not have anything to do with luck. It is down to poor technique and poor finishing.”
Parry confirmed Tranmere will continue to search the loan market for a centre forward to cover for Showumni and back up Mustafa Tiryaki, while the pressure to balance the budget by releasing players on loan to other clubs cannot be ignored.
Parry said he had fielded tentative enquiries over the last week about midfielder Joss Labadie and Tiryaki.
Relegation-threatened Rochdale head for Prenton Park on the back of a 5-1 home defeat to Stevenage last Saturday. They have yet to post a victory under caretaker manager Chris Beech, who replaced the sacked Steve Eyre last month.