Mike Jackson believes Tranmere Rovers sent out a statement to the rest of Sky Bet League Two courtesy of a battling display in a 2-2 draw with Salford City.
The Whites were forced into no fewer than six changes to the starting line-up that were victorious against Scunthorpe United, following news that two first-team players had tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. The unnamed duo and those in close contact with the pair have now entered a period of isolation.
18-year-old forward Jake Burton came into the team for his league debut, while Mark Ellis and Sid Nelson were brought into defence alongside Manny Monthe and Peter Clarke.
Tranmere found themselves trailing by two goals after 20 minutes played, though struck twice late on through Kieron Morris and Paul Lewis to salvage a hard-fought point.
Reflecting on the sheer character shown by his side at the Peninsula Stadium, Jackson said:
“It has been a tough week; I won’t lie to you. What I will say is, though, is that the way the staff and the players out there today have reacted and responded to that is nothing short of absolutely superb. That sends a statement today as a group, with all the work that has gone into this week and the knockbacks that we’ve had—it’s a credit to them.
“I thought we were the better side. We had to change our shape a couple of times, we had a young lad making his debut, ten senior first-teamers available and they just showed the desire and work-rate to go and dig something out of that game.”
Despite being two goals down at half-time, the Rovers’ boss revealed that he reminded his players they had ‘nothing to fear’ during his team talk and was delighted to see the group rise to the challenge.
“I thought we started the game really well. We gave away a sloppy goal from our throw-in, but then they responded really well. We got in at half-time and had a good chat about it: nothing to fear, always believe in what we’re doing, believe that you’re Tranmere Rovers Football Club. The response was brilliant and I’m so delighted for the group. Some players and some teams could have made excuses for that today, but they didn’t."
He added: “We started to get the impetus in the game [in the second-half]. We changed the shape to a 4-3-3 and it changed the game. They all took onboard that sometimes when things happen to you, it galvanises the group. There is nothing to fear. They knew what to do, they’ve been through things like this before.”