By George Williamson
Despite picking up an important three points last Saturday in a 2-0 victory over Dagenham & Redbridge, Tranmere’s injury crisis continued to rear its ugly head as midfielder Jeff Hughes and full-back Mitch Duggan both limped off in the first half.
On the injuries, boss Micky Mellon said: “They’ve both got hamstring injuries so we think they’re going to be out for, possibly, three weeks.
“That’s not great news for us because it brings the numbers in the squad right down, but it gives somebody else in the squad an opportunity now to go in and carry things forward.”
The ‘next man up’ approach has thus far been a pretty successful one for Rovers, as they’ve had to deal with a plethora of injuries throughout the season to date.
Ben Tollitt has been out since October with a cracked knee cap, having just returned from a knee ligament injury sustained in February, while midfielder James Wallace underwent knee surgery at the start of the season which will keep him out until at least the new year.
Jake Kirby has also been a long-term absentee for the Super Whites, and he continues his rehabilitation of the broken leg he suffered back in February.
Jack Dunn, who joined permanently from Liverpool in the summer after a successful loan spell at Prenton Park last season, has appeared just seven times for the club after picking up a hamstring injury that will keep him out for multiple weeks.
With the suspensions of Connor Jennings and Jay Harris for this weekend’s fixture against Gateshead, that’s at least eight would-be first team players out at the moment for Rovers, but Mellon continues to stress the importance of adopting that ‘next man up’ approach.
He said: “Jeff (Hughes) has been superb since I’ve been here and it will be a loss to not have that certain type of player.
“And Mitch has given us good competition in the full back position, but we have to move on and keep moving forward.
“We’re a wee bit low on numbers so we’re just trying to shadow box around that at the minute.
“We also have a few players on four bookings, so one more yellow card for any of those will give them a suspension too, so that’s something extra to think about as well.
“But we just have to get on with it. Injuries and suspensions are disappointing, yes, but nobody feels sorry for you and we still have to compete for the points and will continue to do that.”