MANAGER Ronnie Moore hopes his young Tranmere players can feed off the positive rather than the negative aspects of this week’s brush with Premier League opposition, when they return to the core business of gathering League One points against Colchester United this afternoon.
Moore has no doubt that many of the youthful professionals who played in the 3-0 Capital One Cup defeat at Aston Villa on Tuesday will learn from the experience.
But he is also concerned that the Villa Park defeat, the first in five league and cup games this season, does not dent the confidence in his team.
Moore said: “Aston Villa are a very good passing team. We had a lot of kids out there and it was a good experience for them to see what tempo they have to play at if they want to get to the top level.
“I think our lads will learn a lot from Tuesday. If I was 19 again I would have thought: this is where I want to be playing.
“Maybe one or two of our players will be asking themselves: can I get up to that level? It was hard for our lads because we did not pass the ball as well as we can and gave the ball away too much.
“The higher you go, the better the players you come up against. But I think we have two or three players in our team who are capable of playing at that level and in my opinion, they will play at that level.”
Moore added: “I hope the result does not affect our league form. I’ve said to them we are not going to come up against anyone in League One with the ability of Steve Ireland or Darren Bent.
“Reality should set in. No one is going to play against us in the way Villa did, keeping the ball so well, the movement and the pace.”
Colchester are much more typical of the kind of opponents Tranmere will be judged against over the next eight months - strong, drilled and disciplined, with enough players of large stature to make them a
threat at set plays.
Managed by the experienced John Ward, Colchester finished 10th last season and have started the League One campaign with three draws.
Moore said: “John Ward always organises his team is well. They have height and pace.
“We will have to be careful about giving away corners and free kicks as they have three six-foot-four players in the side.
“They gave us a good hiding in their place towards the end of last season (Tranmere lost 4-2) and I was disappointed in our performance that day. It will be good to put that right.”
Moore rates the Colchester strikeforce of Clinton Morrison, a 33 year old with spells at Crystal Palace, Birmingham City, Coventry and Sheffield Wednesday behind him, and Ian Henderson.
But he added: “We should not be worrying about anyone, because if we do things right on the day and perform the way we can, then I don’t think there are many teams in this division who will live with us.”
Tranmere’s early season form has been good enough to yield seven points from the opening three league games, two of which were away.
If that represents a good start to improving Rovers’ historically patchy form on the road, then maintaining Prenton Park’s reputation as a fortress can’t be taken for granted.
Moore said: “We know what we need to do here. We have a pattern of play and a tempo at home which makes it difficult for visiting teams.
I think it is going to take a really good team to beat us here.
“If a good team come comes and plays better than us and beats us, you just have to hold your hand up and move onto the next one.”
An adjustment to Tranmere’s starting line-up looks certain. Roman Golbart, a 20-year-old Spanish centre-back signed on a month’s loan from Wigan Athletic yesterday, can be expected to make his debut at the heart of the defence alongside another loan recruit, Ben Gibson.
Golobart’s arrival suggests Ash Taylor won’t be able to shake off the thigh injury he sustained at Villa Park and with Ian Goodison sidelined for another two to three weeks following knee surgery, Tranmere were short of defensive cover.
There could be a change further forward in the line-up.
Moore has been hinting that winger Abdulai Bell-Baggie’s strong performances from the substitutes bench over recent games could earn him promotion to the first XI.