MANAGER Ronnie Moore says it is going to be touch and go whether Ash Taylor will be fit to resume his role at the heart of the Tranmere defence against Colchester United at Prenton Park tomorrow.
The centre-back is a doubtful starter for the League One encounter after limping out of the 3-0 Capital One Cup defeat at Aston Villa in midweek with a thigh injury.
Moore said: “We are hopeful Ash will come through but we won’t know until the last minute.”
A negative report on Taylor’s condition could send Tranmere back into the loan market for another centre-back. Ben Gibson was recruited on loan from Middlesbrough at the start of the season to cover the loss of Ian Goodison to knee surgery, and the 19-year-old has proved a big success. Tranmere must make a signing before the close of the summer transfer window late tonight (Friday) if they want a player for duty against Colchester.
However, Football League clubs like Rovers will be able to make loan signings again one week after the transfer window closes.
Even so, Moore says it has been difficult finding a centre-back with experience who can be recruited on loan.
Most of the players available are youngsters with Premier League and Championship clubs looking to gain first-team experience.
Moore said: “We have a list and if Ash does not make it we can go through 50 names, make a few phone calls and see if we can get someone in. We are hopeful Ash will be okay.”
Tranmere’s problems in the central defensive area may soon begin to lift. Moore reports that Goodison is progressing well in his recovery from the knee operation and could be back in training in two to three weeks’ time.
Mark McChrystal saw his first action since suffering a groin injury three weeks ago by playing for the reserves on Wednesday.
Moore says he is considering making “a change or two” to the starting line-up tomorrow as Rovers seek to build on their unbeaten League One record.
He said: “We have had a lot of games and it has got to take its toll on one or two players, so I might freshen things up a little bit, there may be one or two changes.”
Winger Abdulai Bell-Baggie has been making a strong case for inclusion in the starting line-up after putting in succession of positive contributions as a substitute over recent games.
Moore says he took encouragement from watching the reserves open their Central League programme with a 4-1 win over Hull City, in which Joe Conchie notched a hat-trick.
“It was great for me to watch that game and see everyone of those players having a go,” Moore said. “There are no slackers in our squad. They all want to be part of the first team and we’re going to need them. When their chance comes, they have to make the most of it.”