Keith Hill will not risk handing fit-again “talisman” James Vaughan extra game time to find a solution to Tranmere’s recent goal drought.
Rovers are fifth, four points off an automatic promotion place after a 0-0 Sky Bet League Two draw against play-off hopefuls Salford.
Vaughan returned from an 11-game absence after knee surgery in the 1-0 midweek defeat at Walsall and the 21-goal striker enjoyed 23 more minutes as a second-half substitute against City.
“I have got to be cautious with James Vaughan,” said manager Hill as Rovers failed to score for the fourth time in five games.
“I was concerned at one point when he hit the deck and he sprung up grabbing his knee. We have got to be careful with him but he is a talisman.
“I am not that type of person who flogs someone for the sake of it. I would rather sacrifice myself.”
Paul Lewis hit the crossbar for the home side, while Ian Henderson’s close-range header was Salford’s best moment.
Hill: “Both teams were desperate to win but there was not enough quality in the final third.
“Three points would have been magnificent but I am really positive about the performance.
“I was flat after the Walsall defeat. But I have got belief this group have got real desire to go on and cement our place in the play-offs, potentially automatic promotion.
“But we have to turn what I term a very courageous performance into three points. However, it is important you don’t lose games.
“Had we lost the players would have been floored. But everything I asked of them – the desire, the determination – they gave it to me.”
Gary Bowyer’s Salford are 11th but just one win away from the top seven.
“There is a lot to play for,” the Salford boss said.
“At the start of the day we were four points off, now we are three points off. So, it is going to go all the way.
“We are making progress towards the top seven. When I came here we were six points (back), now we have reduced it to three with five games left to play.
“The lads are giving everything and it is just that last bit we need to keep working towards.
“For any team to be successful you need everybody to contribute. You cannot rely on your strikers. And we have spoken about it as a group.
“We took the game to Tranmere in the first half especially and had a couple of good chances.
“We knew they would come at us in the second half, which they did. But we got back into the game and had a couple of great opportunities.
“But we have come away from home and gained a clean sheet. The last two games we have played against teams in the play-offs who people speak very highly of and we gave two good accounts of ourselves.”
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