Nov 6 2012 by Nick Hilton, Extra ST
TRANMERE have begun the search to find a replacement for the hottest marksman in League One.
Jake Cassidy, the teenage striker with 10 goals to his name already this season, will be going back to Wolverhampton Wanderers when his current loan term with Rovers comes to an end at the turn of the year.
Wolves are keen to see for themselves if Cassidy can be effective at Championship level after developing impressively as a front man in the early months of the season at Prenton Park.
Tranmere manager Ronnie Moore has been told that should Wolves decide Cassidy would be best served by another spell out on loan, then he will be given first refusal on the player. Arrangements for a second loan spell with Rovers could be put in place before the close of the January transfer window.
However, Moore says he must plan for the possibility that Cassidy will be asked to stay at Molineux and won’t be available in the second half of Tranmere’s League One campaign.
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.
“Wolves will be having a look at him, probably for a fortnight. If they want to keep him then we have to go fishing to find another striker. By the time Christmas comes Jake might have scored 15 goals for us, so replacing a player like that will be very difficult.
“It’s going to be down to David Philpotts, the chief scout here, the staff and myself to try and find a replacement. We’ve got to be looking now. We can’t wait until January.
“Jake has said to me that he does not want to go back and be on the bench for Wolves, or play reserve team football down there and I’m sure Wolves would not do that.”
Moore said he believed Cassidy would benefit from returning to Prenton Park for the second half of the season. “By the time he finished the season with us, Jake is not going to be far off being a really good Championship player,” Moore said.
Wolves have told Tranmere they cannot use Cassidy in FA Cup ties. Sheffield Wednesday made the same stipulation over midfielder Liam Palmer, whose loan to Rovers is also due to end in early January.
However, Middlesbrough are prepared to allow centre-back Ben Gibson, whose loan also runs until early January, to play in the FA Cup.
Tranmere are to make a second attempt to play their first round tie at Braintree Town next Tuesday (November 13) after the original fixture on Sunday was called off because of waterlogging to the pitch at Cressing Road. The postponement won’t be as expensive as initially feared. The re-arranged game will be televised live by ITV4 so the clubs don’t lose out on a broadcast fee worth just under £64,000.
Rovers return to League One action with two away fixtures this week, at Hartlepool United tomorrow (7.45pm) and Oldham Athletic on Saturday (3pm).
Jake Jervis, a striker on loan from Birmingham City, could be in line for a return to action at Hartlepool after missing two games through injury. He was unavailable for the Braintree game because Birmingham did not want him to be cup tied. However, another loan striker, Nathan Eccleston, is back with parent club Blackpool 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.
Hartlepool will step up their search for a new manager as they prepare to play host to Tranmere tomorrow.
Pools chairman Ken Hodcroft is starting the interview process to find a successor to Neale Cooper, with former Hull and Preston manager Phil Brown now top of the bookmakers’ shortlist.
Pools’ fragile morale was further dented last Saturday, when they lost 6-1 in the FA Cup at League Two club Chesterfield.