By Josh Roberts
Ever since Larnell Cole signed in October of last year, the former Fulham man has been on the periphery of the Tranmere squad failing to establish himself in Micky Mellon’s first choice XI.
When fit, Connor Jennings and the former on-loan man Dylan Mottley-Henry were first choice wingers and for good reason as both have played an impressive part in Tranmere’s push up the table.
The departure of Mottley-Henry, who returned to Barnsley after his loan deal expired, has meant Cole has found himself playing a prominent role on the right hand side of Rovers’ midfield four of late but his performances have been less than impressive.
Too often Cole finds himself drifting inside off the touchline negating the width in the side. It feels he isn’t a natural winger and would prefer to play more centrally but has been tasked with doing a job for the side playing out wide.
He has only played 10 games for Rovers so far scoring just the two goals averaging a goal every five games.
When compared to the two season at Shrewsbury and Inverness previous to joining Tranmere. Cole scored 3 in 34 averaging a goal every 11.3 games at Shrewsbury and scored 2 in 23 averaging a goal every 11.5 games.
The stats show that Cole isn’t a goal scorer, over the last two and a half years he averages a goal just under every 10 games which quite simply isn’t good enough for an attacker.
Injuries have also hampered the 24-year-old during his short stay at Tranmere so far with a couple of hamstring problems forcing him to miss out on occasion.
What Rovers can’t afford to have is a wide man who is partial to the odd injury, they are well stocked in those already.
Jake Kirby has just made his first team return after a long injury lay off and Ben Tollitt, Jack Dunn and James Wallace are long term absentees but due to return in the coming weeks.
Arguably all three of the aforementioned are superior quality to Cole whose contract is due to run out this month.
Josh Ginnelly has also signed on-loan for the rest of the season from Burnley, and with Jennings, you would think Cole would be sixth choice winger in the squad.
With Tranmere stacked with wide men, there could be the option to play Cole centrally up front which would suit him more.
However James Norwood and Andy Cook have started every game they have been available for and have been in superb form, each reaching double figures for goals this season.
Gerry McDonagh found game time hard to come by during his loan spell and subsequently his loan deal wasn’t extended.
Tranmere also have George Waring and James Alabi out on loan, although the latter is rumoured to be leaving permanently.
Andy Mangan has returned to the club after his short loan spell to presumably play the role of the bench striker McDonagh filled for the first half of the season.
Could Tranmere afford a luxury like Cole who has yet to show what he can fully do on the pitch and would face fierce competition for both wing roles and the striker role?
It wouldn’t be realistic on a financial level but also in terms of game time for Cole.
Despite this, Micky Mellon has gone on record to say they are in talks to extend his contract. This was however before Ginnelly signed which may have put a spanner in the works.
Mellon also confirmed he will be talking to Larnell Cole about trying to extend his contract. Expires this month #TRFC
— Matthew Jones (@mattjones_sport) January 13, 2018
Mellon has worked with Cole before Tranmere when he was at Shrewsbury and may be keen to keep him due to their good relationship.
It would be a shame if he left as he started his Rovers’ career with so much promise, scoring on his debut against Halifax as well as winning Tranmere Talk’s Goal of the Month for November.
While there is doubt Cole has something about him and could offer versatility going into the run in for a top seven finish, the established and returning players are much better options.