Feb 26 2013 by Nick Hilton, Extra ST
TRANMERE must attempt to keep their promotion challenge up to speed at Prenton Park tonight without the influence of powerful new target man Mama Sidibe.
The experienced Sidibe, who began a loan spell from Stoke City by helping Rovers break a four-game losing streak with a 5-1 win at Colchester United last weekend, picked up a hamstring injury during the game and may be missing for a fortnight.
The 33-year-old has returned to the Britannia Stadium for treatment and won’t be available for the League One fixture at home to Notts County (kick-off 7.45pm).
Sidibe’s setback follows the loss of attacking midfielder Adam McGurk, who faces a month on the sidelines with a collapsed lung.
However, manager Ronnie Moore and assistant John McMahon are hopeful Tranmere have enough attacking firepower at their disposal to complete a double over the Magpies tonight and end a sequence of three straight League One defeats in front of their own supporters.
McMahon acknowledged that the introduction of Sidibe and the return of Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro following a three-match suspension had a big impact on the side, who had managed just two goals in the previous four games.
“They made a massive difference,” McMahon said.
“Big Mama gave us the presence up front. His work rate, his experience and know-how were valuable.
“He went back to Stoke on Sunday and they are looking at the possibility of a two-week layoff. That seems to be the way things are going for us at the moment. We kick on and then there’s the little setback.”
McMahon added: “Hopefully Jean-Louis is going to get better and better as he gets more match fitness. He was out for a long time with his injury, then came back, got suspended and missed three more games.
“Now he should get stronger and fitter and hopefully that will stand us in good stead for the remainder of the season.”
Whatever the impact of the injuries, Tranmere aim to show the win at Colchester drew a line under a sequence of five defeats in six games that cost them valuable momentum in the race to secure a place in the Championship next season. Tranmere could return to the top of the table by winning tonight, subject to results elsewhere in a full midweek League One programme.
McMahon said: “I would be lying if I said confidence had not been affected by those disappointing results. After Colchester we had a happy dressing room and a happy team bus going home. The spirit is still there with all the lads.
“They will get nervous now because it’s the time of the season when people are looking at tables. Fortunately for us we are at the right end of things.”
Notts County, 10 points outside the play-off zone in 10th place, appointed Chris Kiwomya as manager for the remainder of the season last weekend after a five-game spell as caretaker. Kiwomya replaces Keith Curle, who was dismissed after County dropped off the pace in the promotion race.
McMahon said: “They will think they still have a chance of making the play-offs. Notts County are a big club with a big set up a big squad.
“I went to watch them play Walsall recently and they try to play football. They have goal threats with players like Alan Judge, Neal Bishop, John Cofie and Yoann Arquin. They try to play from the back and are going to be a force.”
The County squad of more than 30 professionals includes former Tranmere players Enoch Showunmi and Joss Labadie, who moved to Meadow Lane last summer.
Neither has figured prominently in County’s starting XI this season. Midfielder Labadie’s 24 first-team appearances include 18 as a substitute. Showunmi’s 17 senior games include 12 appearances as substitute.
Tranmere will be without Liam Palmer tonight as the midfielder completes a three match suspension.