TRANMERE hope to have Ben Gibson back in the heart of the rearguard when they attempt to revive their faltering promotion challenge at Colchester United on Saturday.
The 19-year-old Middlesbrough defender, who forged a solid centre-back partnership with Ash Taylor during the first half of the season, has been keen to start a second loan spell at Prenton Park.
He is due to train with Rovers today after overcoming the groin injury that cut short his initial loan in December.
Manager Ronnie Moore said: “We’re hoping we can get Ben back in. We are just waiting to hear from Middlesbrough. If he comes in it gives us a different option at the back.”
Moore is concerned by defensive problems surfacing during a run of five defeats in six games, sending the one-time League One leaders sliding down to sixth place in a tight promotion race.
Donervorn Daniels, a 19-year-old centre-back on loan from West Bromwich Albion, scored Tranmere’s goal in the 3-1 defeat to Swindon Town on Tuesday but has just a dozen senior games under his belt and lacks experience.
Moore said: “We don’t look like we’re going to keep a clean sheet at the moment. The two centre-backs are not playing particularly well. Young Donervorn is having a struggle. That’s an area we need to look at for the Colchester game.”
Tranmere’s ambitions to sign a tall striker could also be realised in time for the long trip to Essex.
They are awaiting a reply from a target man who is being wooed by up to half a dozen lower division clubs. Moore said: “We are one of six clubs the boy has the option of coming to and hopefully it will happen for us this week.”
Bolton’s 6ft5ins front-man Tom Eaves has been linked with a move to Tranmere over recent weeks. The 21-year-old from Liverpool is yet to start a senior game for Bolton but played 16 games on loan with League Two club Bristol Rovers earlier this season, scoring seven goals.
He made 15 League One appearances for Oldham Athletic during the 2009/10 campaign.
Tranmere will have Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro available for selection at Colchester after the Frenchman completed a three match suspension for his dismissal for retaliation in the 1-0 home defeat to Carlisle.
“Jean-Louis might give us a little spark we have been looking for,” Moore said. “We have not been troubling the opposition goalkeeper very much for the last few games.”