January will be a pivotal month to decide what Tranmere’s ambitions will be for the rest of the season, says midfielder Adam McGurk
ADAM McGURK reckons Tranmere should have a clear idea about the strength of their League One promotion challenge by the end of a testing run of January fixtures.
Rovers, leading the division on goal difference from Doncaster, face away games against four clubs with promotion ambitions of their own before the month is out.
Crawley Town visit Prenton Park on Saturday, the rearranged fixture against Coventry City is staged at the Ricoh Arena on Wednesday, January 16, Tranmere travel to Brentford on Saturday, January 19 and have a return date with Swindon Town, who handed them a 5-0 thrashing just before Christmas, on Saturday, January 26.
Wide midfielder McGurk said: “Where we are at the end of January will tell a good tale. I think we will know if we have a realistic chance of going up.
“I like to take every game as it comes and we do feel that home or away, we don’t fear anyone in this division. But I think by the end of January the table will start panning out something like what it is going to be.”
Manager Ronnie Moore also believes January can be a pivotal month for his team. “The next four games are the most important part of our season,” Moore said. “It can be make or break time, without putting too much pressure on anyone.
“These are games players should want to be involved in. They will have a big say on our season. If we are still in the top six at the end of the month then we will have a shout in the 16 games remaining. If we can take nine points out of four games this month it will be a hell of an achievement for us.”
McGurk has established himself as a first-team regular over the past two months, making 11 consecutive starting appearances.
“I think I’m getting better and I am enjoying myself,” said the Irishman, who celebrates his 24th birthday later this month.
“You’ve got to enjoy the run of big games we’ve been involved in. It is a great job to have. There’s no point in thinking how difficult the games are. You get on with it and enjoy it.”
McGurk’s season turned around after injuries kept him out of the first team picture during the early months. He said: “The start of the season was a frustrating time for me. I missed nine or 10 games. Since I’ve been back I’ve played every game apart from one. I’m lucky to have stayed injury free.”
McGurk can expect competition for places to hot up as the month progresses with long-term casualties Abdulai Bell-Baggie, Jean-Louis Acpa Akpro and James Wallace pushing for comebacks sometime in January, while Moore is on the hunt for a new attacking player in the loan market.
“Hopefully we will have some of our injured players back by the end of this month,” McGurk said.
“It might take them one or two games to get back to full sharpness again it will be great to have them back.”
Moore says he is confident his young team have the strength of character to recover quickly from a 5-0 FA Cup defeat at Derby County last weekend and pick up the momentum from three consecutive League One wins over the Christmas holiday programme.
“We’ve been able to bounce back from setbacks this season and we are hopeful it will happen again,” Moore said.
“These are fantastic games for the lads to play.
“They should be raring to go to show people why we are top of the league. If we win the games, we’ll stay top.”