Tranmere Rovers: Ronnie Moore facing striker crisis ahead of FA Cup clash
TRANMERE must go into tomorrow’s televised FA Cup first-round encounter against Braintree Town with a patched up team, as injuries and loan conditions take a toll on the selection options for manager Ronnie Moore.
Rovers will be hardest hit in attack, where they will be without Jake Cassidy, Nathan Eccleston and Jake Jervis, as well as long-term casualty Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro.
Eccleston, the former Liverpool front man who signed on a month’s loan from Blackpool just over a week ago, has returned to Bloomfield Road for treatment to a hamstring strain.
The injury may keep Ecclestone out of action for between two to four weeks.
The 21-year-old has played just one game for Tranmere, the 1-1 draw with Preston last Saturday.
Birmingham City will not permit Jervis to play in the FA Cup during his month long loan at Prenton Park. Wolverhampton Wanderers have made this same stipulation over Cassidy, who is on an extended loan that runs until early January.
Sheffield Wednesday have pulled the plug on Liam Palmer’s hopes of playing in the Braintree tie. The midfielder is also on a loan with Tranmere that runs until early January.
Moore said: “We have been very unfortunate with the injuries to the attacking players and we just have to get on with it. It would’ve been nice to have Cassidy, Ecclestone and Jervis to pick from at Braintree but we do have other options in Cole Stockton, who is big and strong and can lead the line, and Adam McGurk. There’s also a chance Andy Robinson will be fit.”
Ecclestone may not play another game for Tranmere before his loan runs out but the League One team will still be liable to pay the player’s wages for the full month.
Moore said: “Even if Nathan is back in Blackpool under treatment, we still have to pay the bill. It does nothing to help the budget.”
Tranmere have been told they must hand Cassidy back to Wolves after the Christmas and New Year holiday fixtures. But there is a chance the 19-year-old striker, who was notched 10 goals this season, will be allowed to start a fresh loan with Rovers before the close of the January transfer window.
Moore said: “Jake is due to go back to Molineux in early January because Wolves want to have a look at him, to see if he can progress with them. If they decide to let him out on loan again, we will have the first option on him.
“Jake has learned a lot since he came here. He is definitely progressing as a player. Wolves have an FA Cup third round game in early January and they may want to have a look at him in that.
“I still think Jake can benefit from another five months with us. By the time he’s finished a full season here, I think he’s going to be a really good Championship player.”