By George Williamson
Over the course of the week we’ll be looking closely at our ‘top five’ in a variety of categories as the first half of the season draws to a close, and in this feature we’re evaluating Rovers’ top five players through the first few months.
Rovers may have struggled in front of goal so far this year, but James Norwood remains the club’s top scorer with eight.
He has often been the focal point of the attack and has had a variety of partners including Andy Cook and Gerry McDonagh, amongst others.
He’s been a mainstay in the side as injuries decimated the rest of the team, and has been the bright spark up top for the Super Whites.
If he can stay fit and Rovers can go on a run of form, he could get close to that 20-goal mark that strikers value so dearly.
The veteran defender is already a fan favourite at Prenton Park after a string of solid displays at the heart of the defence.
In a feature piece earlier this season, Tranmere Talk’s own Josh Roberts perfectly epitomised the 34-year-old’s reputation at this level:
“He might not look like a typical modern footballer but his footballing brain has been invaluable to every club he has played for and it is no different for Tranmere.
His calmness on the ball and technical ability to play out from the back is a massive asset for the Wirral club.”
Rovers have conceded the third least amount of goals (18) in the National League through the first 22 games of the season, and that is in large part thanks to Davies’ stellar performances between the sticks.
The Super Whites have lost a ton of games by a solitary goal this year, which puts a lot of pressure on the goalkeeper and his defence to keep focused, but if the goals start flying in during the second half of the season that pressure should be lifted somewhat, and Davies will hope he can elevate his game in further as a result.
Injuries have plagued the Rovers defence this season, especially at full-back as Adam Buxton has missed time earlier in the year, while Evan Gumbs was recalled from a loan spell at Warrington Town to cover a depleted back-line.
Ridehalgh, unfortunately, is no different after picking up a knock a fortnight ago, but has still played remarkably well in a couple of variations of the full-back role, at wing back in a 3-5-2 and as a traditional full-back in a flat back four.
Injuries have hit Tranmere’s midfield the most during the first half of the season, and perhaps that’s why Norburn has arguably the most important player for Rovers so far.
He’s put in some solid performances without being the centre of attention and is a classic 7/8 out of 10 player in a team that’s been without some key players at various stages of the year.