Aug 27 2013 by Nick Hilton, Main WIR
AN INJURY pile-up is adding to Tranmere’s early-season woes as they prepare to face Bolton Wanderers in the Capital One Cup tonight.
Rovers could find themselves with barely enough fit professionals to fill the first 11 places on the team sheet for the second round tie at Prenton Park.
Eight members of Ronnie Moore’s squad of 21, which includes two loan players, are either ruled out of action or doubtful starters.
Skipper Andy Robinson, striker Ryan Lowe, midfielder Jason Koumas and winger Abdulai Baggie picked up knocks and strains in last Saturday’s 5-0 hammering at home to Peterborough United.
Striker Akpo Sodje missed the Peterborough game with an a knee injury and Joe Thompson through sickness.
Andrai Jones, the full-back signed on loan from Barnsley 10 days ago, begins a three-match suspension tonight for a straight red card in the Peterborough game while skipper James Wallace is several weeks away from making a comeback from a knee ligament injury that has kept him on the sidelines since last December.
Lowe, who has stud marks down his leg from a second-half challenge that earned him a booking against the Posh, is also complaining of a tight hamstring.
Koumas, yet to start a game as he attempts to build up his fitness after a two-year absence from professional ranks, is complaining of a tight hamstring.
Baggie hurt his shoulder when clattering into a pitch side advertising hoarding on Saturday.
Moore said: “It is difficult when you have a squad of just 19 and so many are injured.
“We have enough fit players to put out a starting 11 but it might be limited to two or three on the bench.
“We can’t really make up the numbers of substitutes with kids from the youth squad because none of them are ready for senior football yet. We did not take on any scholars at the end of last season and it’s left us short.
“But the Bolton game will be an opportunity for one or two who have not played so far this season.”
Moore added: “You seem to get more knocks when you are not winning games. The players are all honest. They have the knocks. It’s nothing to do with the white flag going up.
“But I’ve not had a situation before where the numbers have been quite so low.”
Young striker Cole Stockton is likely to get his first start of the season in place of Lowe. Danny Holmes will come back into the side at right-back after completing a one-match ban, in place of Jones.
Jake Kirby, like Stockton a second-year professional, will also be looking to add to his first-team experience tonight.
Under normal circumstances Moore would not consider putting out a scratch side against opponents from the Championship in a competition that has the potential to be a money maker for the club.
However, after a difficult start to the League One season which has seen Rovers take one point from the first 12 at stake, while leaking 13 goals in four games, the first target will be to avoid another heavy defeat and more injuries.
Moore said: “This is a cup game and we would like to go as far as we can in this competition. It would be great if we could produce a shock and get through to the next round and perhaps pull a tie with Liverpool, Everton or another big Premier League club. That would make us a few bob and maybe I could add one or two players to the squad.”
Moore, assistant John McMahon and goalkeeper coach Dave Timmins each headed off on scouting missions to under-21 games after training yesterday.
Tranmere’s priority is to find a left-sided centre back who can resolve the imbalance at the heart of the defence.
Moore is concerned that neither of his first choice centre-backs, Ash Taylor and Stephen Foster, has been able to settle on the left side of the partnership.
Ian Goodison may well start against Bolton after the veteran Jamaican replaced Foster at half-time in the Peterborough game.