RYAN Brunt is on course to extend his introduction into League One football with a second month with Tranmere, after making a positive impression over the last few weeks.
The 18-year-old striker notched his first League goal in Rovers' 1-1 draw with leaders Charlton Athletic last weekend and is due to complete a month on loan from Stoke City after the game at Oldham Athletic on Saturday.
Manager Les Parry says Tranmere are moving towards a decision to seek an extension to the loan, provided Stoke and the player are agreeable.
"Ryan is improving with each game he plays," said Parry, who selected Brunt in the starting line-up for the last two games after the youngster eased his way into the side with two substitute appearances.
Parry went on: "Ryan is a thorn in the side of defenders, which you like to see. And he took his goal against Charlton very well.
"This week, I will have a chat with Ryan and with the coaching staff. We will address the three key questions: do we want him to stay, does he want to stay and do Stoke want him to stay?
"The chances are, if we are able to keep him, I think we would like to. I think he has done ever so well. But there are lots of bridges to cross first.
"After looking at the improvement in his performances, I think he would benefit from staying, I think we would benefit from him staying and importantly, Stoke would benefit from him staying."
The powerfully built Brunt is yet to play a first-team game for Stoke and prior to the move to Prenton Park, his only experience of first-team football was in five substitute appearances in the Conference for Luton Town and one FA Cup game for Nantwich Town.
Parry has deployed Brunt as centre forward in a 4-3-3 formation in which the other two attackers operate in wide positions.
"It is an unforgiving role," Parry said. "You are expected to chase pigeons with no positive outcome likely most of the time. Robbie Weir and James Wallace have done well in supporting him from midfield when we're breaking. So he has not ended up there on his own.
"It is when the opposition have the ball at the back that he is chasing them from one side of the pitch to the other."
Tranmere are completing the paperwork that enables Wallace to extend his loan from Everton into a second month. "I'm delighted James is staying with us," Parry said of the 21-year-old, who made his fifth Tranmere appearance against Charlton.
Parry added: "With each game he plays for us, James is settling into our level of football and has been more effective. Getting forward on the break is one of his strengths. The midfield three did really well against Charlton."
Holding the runaway leaders to a draw for the second time this season did not have much positive impact on Tranmere's position in the table. Their advantage over the teams in the relegation places is down to six points.
However, Parry reckons the psychological benefits could be significant. He said: "Sometimes you don't have to win a game to take confidence from it. The players will look at the performance against Charlton and know they deserved what they got. It will give them a little bit of belief."
Tranmere can take some encouragement from the sequence of results that followed the 1-1 draw with Charlton at The Valley in early October. They went on to reel off three League One wins in a row and another in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.
Meanwhile Adam McGurk and Robbie Weir have been put on standby for Northern Ireland's international friendly against Norway at the end of the month.
The pair could be called into Michael O'Neill's main squad if injuries or withdrawals affect the 24 players originally selected.
Northern Ireland host Norway at Windsor Park on Wednesday, February 29, kick-off 7:45pm