MANAGER Ronnie Moore reckons the testing times are arriving for League One leaders Tranmere.
They tasted defeat for the first time in 13 League outings at Bournemouth last weekend.
Meanwhile the injuries pile up, limiting the options available to Moore in preparing teams for home games against Doncaster Rovers on Tuesday and Preston North End on Saturday.
Tranmere sought to counter the long-term loss of Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro by recruiting Jake Jervis from Birmingham City and the 21-year-old striker scored on his debut at Dean Court.
However, Jervis sustained an ankle injury during the game and faces at least a fortnight on the sidelines.
Moore said: "It would be nice to say we have Jake for another month but he is going to be out for a couple of weeks, which is an absolute sickener for us.
"We knew, when everything was pretty and everyone was fit, but the injuries and the yellow cards would come. This will be a testing week for us."
Moore was encouraged by what he saw of Jervis, who is yet to break into Birmingham's first team but enjoyed loan spells over the last two years with Hereford, Notts County, Swindon, Preston and Carlisle.
"Jake could have had a hat-trick against Bournemouth, never mind a goal on his debut," Moore said.
"He did well when you consider everything was rushed on Friday. We picked him up at a motorway services on the journey down to Bournemouth. He got on the bus and did not know anybody. The lad wanted to play and that showed he has some guts.
"Jake got injured when their lad came through on his standing foot and jarred his ankle. There is a bad swelling on it. He will be lucky if he is fit in a fortnight.
"It might be he has to go back after playing one game for us. The sad thing is, whether the boy is injured or not, we still have to pay his wages. So the chances of bringing in someone else are slim."
Tranmere's run of nine wins and three draws represented the club's best ever start to a season.
"It was a fantastic run and it wasn't going to last all season," Moore said. "When you do eventually lose you like to think it is because the other team were better than you on the day. I don't believe that was the case at Bournemouth. A lot of our problems were caused by the referee. They are like players in that they have good games and bad games and he (David Phillips) had a bad day."
Tranmere's FA Cup first-round visit to Braintree in Essex looks like a "banana skin" to Moore - and he won't be surprised if the game is picked out for live TV coverage.
Braintree, managed by former West Ham United FA Cup winner Alan Devonshire, currently lie in the bottom half of the Conference. Their tiny Cressing Road ground has a capacity of just 4,202.
Moore said: "It is one of those banana skin games, that I as the manager of a League One club does not want and one the TV people love."
The first-round ties are due to be played around the weekend of Saturday, November 3.
Meanwhile Tranmere's application to sell the Ingleborough Road training ground for house building will be decided by Wirral Council's planning committee on Thursday.
The proposed scheme for 90 homes is linked to the redevelopment of the Woochurch Leisure Centre into a new training complex for Tranmere, with some facilities shared by the local community.
The two applications have been recommended for approval by council officers and the Tranmere Rovers Supporters Trust is calling on councillors to back the scheme and “leave a lasting legacy for generations of young people”.
They say as well as delivering enormous benefits, including state- of-the-art sports facilities for generations of young people, much-needed housing provision and a host of jobs, the move would also safeguard the future of Tranmere Rovers, which has been a focal point of the Wirral community for more than 125 years.
However, campaigners have consistently opposed the redevelopment of the Birkenhead site which was formerly part of the Birkenhead Institute school.
Opponents of Tranmere’s plans say the field was handed over as a memorial to the 88 former pupils who died in World War I, including the famous war poet Wilfred Owen.
Supporters Trust chairman Ben Harrison, said: “The choice is between retaining a privately-owned, inaccessible field which is not fit for purpose and serves nobody, or giving approval to a transformational scheme which would benefit thousands of people for years to come by creating jobs and providing new housing and top- rate community sports facilities.”