RECOGNITION as a player of international potential can give Tranmere’s Adam McGurk a valuable injection of confidence, says his club manager Ronnie Moore.
The 24-year-old front man from Larne has been named in the Northern Ireland squad for the friendly international against Malta in Valetta next Wednesday.
Moore believes it is a reward for McGurk’s contribution to keeping Rovers at the top of the League One table during a run of starting appearances stretching back to November.
“Adam is a player who thrives on confidence, he needs confidence and this call-up will do him the world of good, confidence wise,” Moore said.
“When he is playing well, I think Adam is as good as anyone in our division. But he has to produce week in, week out.”
McGurk scored Tranmere’s winning goal in his last outing, a 2-1 victory at Brentford 12 days ago, and is keen to add to his season’s tally of four strikes in this weekend’s game against Carlisle United.
McGurk acknowledges he has produced many of his better performances this season away from Prenton Park, where elements of the home support can be quick to voice disapproval when he attempts a pass, shot or manoeuvre that goes wrong.
Moore said: “Adam is not a crowd favourite at home.
“Away from home his workload has been fantastic. He knows his job and gets up and down the pitch.
“He needs a little break at home. I think he gets too uptight. He’s thinking he has to prove things to people when all they want to see from him is hard work. I have spoken openly to Adam and said that if things are not going well for him, he should make it easy for himself by simplifying his game.
“Instead of going for the 35-yard shot that flies over the bar, he should play off the striker and maybe get a little bit nearer goal before having a shot.
“Little things like that can get the crowd on your side. If supporters see players running about, working hard and making tackles they won’t have a go. Adam needs to do the simple things.”
Moore added: “He is not the first player it has happened to here, and it happens at every club.”
Tranmere hope McGurk can shake off a hamstring strain to be available for Saturday’s encounter with the Cumbrians at Prenton Park.
Moore said McGurk would probably have missed last Saturday’s scheduled match against Swindon Town, had a frozen pitch not caused a postponement.
McGurk is due to resume training today, as is striker Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, who suffered bruising to the ribs in a heavy fall at Brentford.
Moore said: “We will take it one step at a time and hopefully both of them will have a chance of playing on Saturday.”
Rovers expect long-term casualty James Wallace to be back in action in the middle of February after suffering third-degree tear of his medial ligament in an FA Cup tie against Chesterfield at the beginning of December.