Jan 16 2014 by Nick Hilton, Main WIR
TRANMERE’S own young prospects have been challenged to force their way out of the shadows cast by the loan signings at Prenton Park.
Developing players such as Cole Stockton and Abdulai Baggie have taken a back seat this season while Rovers looked to a succession of temporary signings to aid their fight to climb the League One table.
Baggie, 21, has found himself falling behind in the pecking order while teenage wingers Kris Peterson (from Liverpool) and Matt Kennedy (from Everton) were brought into the first team. The Sierra Leone international has also had to contend with an ankle injury.
Stockton’s opportunities have been limited while Tranmere favoured a tactical formation featuring just one striker, Ryan Lowe.
Stockton made the most of a rare chance to come off the bench to score Tranmere second-half equaliser in the 1-1 draw with at Walsall at Prenton Park last Saturday.
Manager Ronnie Moore said: “Baggie has lots of potential. His ability and pace can be frightening. You see it on the training ground but you don’t see it consistently on the pitch. If we get the consistency part of his game right, then there is another young player who can come through the ranks with us.”
Moore added: “I have spoken to Abs. I’ve brought in a loan players this season who are wide men. He could be doing that job.
“It is down to Abs. We keep telling him the same things: don’t be an impact player, someone who does best when he comes off the bench. We need him to make an impact when he starts games. Sooner or later the penny should drop. If the penny does not drop then he will continue to be an impact player for someone else, which would be a shame.”
Baggie joined Tranmere in the summer of 2012 after struggling to establish himself at Reading, Yeovil and non-League club Salisbury City.
He secured a one-year contract following a trial, which was extended last March to run until the summer of 2015.
Baggie made 21 first-team starts last season and 13 appearances from the bench. This season he’s made five starts and 10 appearances from the bench, the last of them in November, after which he suffered the injury.
Stockton’s goal against Walsall was a reminder of the strength and finishing power the 19-year-old has in his armoury.
The youngster edged past the 50 first-team appearances mark this season but only 14 of those games have been starts.
Moore said: “We’ve been playing with one striker recently and that limits Cole’s chances of playing.
“Against Walsall we were on top at the start of the second half and we felt we needed that extra energy and an extra man up front to help Ryan Lowe out.
“When we made the change could see the difference in the side. It was pure strength that got Cole his goal. He made it out of nothing by bringing the ball down and turning in the box. He has got a hammer in his right foot when he hits it.”
Moore added: “It has been difficult for Cole to get opportunities when we have had Ryan Lowe playing up front on his own and scoring 15 goals. When we play 4-4-2, that’s the opportunity for Cole. Sometimes he takes it, sometimes he does not. But he is young and still learning his trade. When the penny drops he will make a good living from the game. It’s a question of whether he makes a good living out of football from being in League One or in the Championship. He is strong and tough. He just needs to learn how to lead the line. When he does that he will be a regular for us.”