Port Vale keeper Scott Brown says his side will have to be back to their best tomorrow against a Tranmere team he rates as likely promotion contenders.
Rovers started the season among the favourites for promotion but manager Mike Jackson lost his job two weeks ago after they took just nine points from the first ten matches.
But they have recovered under coaches Ian Dawes and Andy Parkinson to win 1-0 at Harrogate in the league and 2-1 at home to Accrington in the FA Cup
Rovers have just signed former Salford midfielder Danny Lloyd as a free agent to add to a squad which also includes experienced striker James Vaughan and attacking midfielder Otis Khan.
Vale, who are seventh, are also at home on Tuesday, against struggling Scunthorpe, but Brown says they aren’t looking further ahead than this weekend’s game.
He said: “Tranmere are a very good team, we were looking through their squad list and they have some real quality, especially going forward.
“So we are not looking at it as a run of games, just the next game,
“I think they will definitely be up there at the end of the season. They have not started great but they had a really good win in the cup last week, we know it is going to be a really tough game.”
John Askey made eight changes for Tuesday night’s 4-2 win over Liverpool under-21s in the EFL Trophy but is likely to revert to more of the side that played in Saturday’s 1-0 FA Cup defeat to King’s Lynn Town.
Vale had earned three successive league wins before that game but underperformed against the National League side.
Brown said: “We felt a bit like we had let the owners down because it would have been a good opportunity to get some money back into the club.
“I was really disappointed on Saturday night and Sunday but then it really hit home when I watched the draw on Monday night. We have to make sure we are right back on it on Saturday against a really good Tranmere team.”
Brown is fairly pleased with the club’s start in the league as 19 points from the opening ten games have left them just two points outside the automatic promotion places with a game in hand on all six of the teams above them.
He added: “It has been a decent start. It could have been better, you always want more, but if we can replicate this points total for the next ten games then it will have been a fantastic start.”
One thing Brown hasn’t enjoyed about the start to the season has been playing behind closed doors.
While all clubs have suffered financially from having no crowds, he believes teams with a higher proportion of young players are probably at an advantage because older players are more experienced in dealing with the pressure of playing in front of supporters.
He said: “You don’t want to get used to it. I think maybe some of the younger teams in the league are perhaps handling it better than others. It will be interesting to see how they do when fans do come back because the pressure will really be on them and expectations will be higher.
“We are missing the fans massively and the sooner they can get back the better.”