MANAGER Ronnie Moore says he won’t hesitate in putting the names of Ian Goodison or Akpo Sodje on his Tranmere team sheet, even though both have the cloud of a police investigation into betting irregularities hanging over them.
Moore confirmed Goodison is close to being ready to play again, following a two-month lay-off with a thigh injury.
The 41-year-old Jamaican international was under treatment for the injury when the investigation was made public in December.
Goodison could be involved, possibly on the substitutes bench, in Tranmere’s League One clash with Crewe Alexandra at Prenton Park on Saturday.
Sodje has been fit enough to play in reserve team football since the turn of the year. However, having failed to score in 11 first-team appearances, the 33-year-old has slipped out of the selection frame behind Ryan Lowe and Cole Stockton.
The arrival this week of Jake Cassidy, signed on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, is likely to have put Sodje further down the pecking order.
Moore said: “Ian Goodison trained twice last week and is training this week. That being the case he won’t be far away from being on the bench or being involved. He is under investigation but he is innocent until proven guilty. He is a footballer who is being paid by us. His job is to play football.
“If he is fit it is basically down to me to decide whether I play him or I don’t. The same applies to Sodje.”
Akpo Sodje and Goodison were among six men arrested last month as part of a National Crime Agency investigation. The others are Sam Sodje, 34, a striker who left Portsmouth last year and Akpo’s elder brother, Steve Sodje, another brother and a former professional footballer, Oldham Athletic’s Cristian Montano, and the Blackburn striker JD Campbell.
All six were arrested after evidence was provided by a national newspaper suggesting Sam Sodje runs a network of players who get themselves booked or sent off for money supplied by illegal overseas betting syndicates.
Sam Sodje, 34, was reported saying he can influence players in Championship matches in exchange for tens of thousands of pounds. He also claimed he could rig Premier League games and this year’s World Cup in Brazil.
Montano was suspended without pay by his club after the allegations were first published, then sacked. The 22-year-old Colombian is contesting Oldham’s decision.
Campbell has made four first team appearances for Blackburn since the arrests and this week the 32-year-old joined Millwall on loan.
Former Jamaican international Goodison, 41, the oldest player in League One, has made more than 400 Tranmere appearances. Popular with staff, players and supporters, Goodison has been granted a testimonial match at the end of the season. Akpo Sodje joined Tranmere in the summer on a one-year contract.