DANNY HOLMES insists he is putting professional priorities ahead of childhood ambitions with Tranmere this week.
The 23-year-old full-back and lifelong Rovers fan realised a long-held dream by playing for his hometown club in the Capital One Cup defeat at Aston Villa on Tuesday.
But Holmes admits Rovers first concern this week has always been securing a result against Colchester United on Saturday, to extend their unbeaten start to the League One campaign.
Holmes said: “I loved every minute of Tuesday night even though losing 3-0 wasn’t the best result. I think the game showed what we have to strive for to get to the level Villa are at.
“Games like that are something to look forward to – but now we have to get back to the main business of the week when we play Colchester. It is the more important game because we have got off to such a good start in the league and we want to keep it going.
“No-one expected us to win at Villa but maybe people expect us to continue our good run in the league.”
Holmes, who has made the right-back position his own since the turn of the year, isn’t surprised by Tranmere’s positive start to the league season, taking seven points from the first three games.
“I think we always had it in us to make this good start and I think we are capable of pushing on from here,” Holmes said. “The unbeaten tag is important. It is a boost for our confidence.”
Tranmere spent much of Tuesday night’s second round tie at Villa Park attempting to contain the threat of a Premier League side who moved the ball with a slick precision rarely seen at third tier level.
Holmes hopes Rovers will be able to make better use of the qualities of pace and energy in the side when they tackle Colchester.
He said: “This is a better team to play for now because we are looking to pass the ball more. Last season we were putting the ball behind the opposition and pressurising. Now we are looking to use the pace we have in the team.
“Pace is so important in the modern game and we have lots of it in the squad now. It is our strength.”
Holmes does not think that confidence will be dented by their first taste of defeat this season, even though Villa’s passage into round three was ultimately a comfortable one.
“For a large part of the game we were on the back foot,” Holmes admitted. “In the second half we got on the ball a bit better.
“The second goal killed us because up to that point we were still in the game.”
Manager Ronnie Moore is hinting that the time may have arrived to make some adjustments to his line-up.
Centre-back Ash Taylor limped out of the action at Villa Park midway through the second half with a thigh injury and is a doubtful starter for the weekend. If Taylor’s knock proves serious, Moore may be forced into the loan market to find extra defensive cover, having already lost Ian Goodison for up to two months following knee surgery.
The summer transfer window closes on Friday night, although Football League clubs will be able to make loan signings after the first week of September.
Moore says he is also concerned about skipper James Wallace. He said: “James is playing with a hell of a bruise on the back of his calf. But he wants to play.”
Moore acknowledged that winger Abdulai Bell-Baggie is knocking hard on the door for the starting XI after delivering the latest in a succession of positive performances from the bench at Villa Park.
“Bell-Baggie came on again and showed he wants to play, so maybe it is time for a change now,” Moore said. “I thought James Wallace and Liam Palmer were up against it in midfield because the two wide men did not do to job we wanted them to.”