TONY Parkes looks set to step into the transfer market in a last-ditch bid to salvage Blackburn Rovers' promotion play-off hopes.

The search is on for someone to solve the club's chronic striking problems, which were underlined in the latest defeat at Tranmere on Saturday.

Ewood boss Parkes, clearly emotional and put on the spot after yet another frustrating performance, had written off Rovers' play-off ambitions just minutes after the final whistle at Prenton Park.

But, after having the weekend to reflect on things, he did an about-turn today and insisted the chance was still there.

Rovers, however, are going to need some help if they are to retrieve a situation where they are eight points adrift with 12 games remaining.

They probably need to win nine of those matches to have a chance.

And the manager dropped a huge hint that new blood could be imminent when he said: "We have to keep looking and see if we can get somebody in. If we can get a striker, either on loan or to buy, then that will happen. But there's nothing to report at the moment."

The manager's initial comments, now withdrawn, had taken the players by surprise.

Ashley Ward said: "The players will just keep going while there is a chance.

"Tranmere rode their luck a bit and there's not much more you can do.

"On the day we could have had three or four goals but we can't just pack it in."

It seemed an emotional over-reaction by the manager and, once things had settled down, he put the situation in a better perspective. "I didn't realise we were only eight points behind. To be honest, I thought the situation was a lot worse than that," he admitted.

"On reflection and, after looking at the league table last night, it would be wrong to say it's over.

"With 12 games to go we have to believe we still have a chance, though it is going to be very difficult.

"When I took over there were 31 games to go but we needed to get two points a game to have a chance of promotion.

"That's still the case and we have to play the likes of Wolves, Birmingham and Fulham. Perhaps we'll do better against the better teams!

"The rest also have to play each other so there's a lot can happen yet.

"I accept that, in the heat of the moment, I said we had no chance but I had just heard about the other sides winning and nobody pointed out to me we were still only eight points adrift.

"It's as if everyone is just waiting for Blackburn Rovers to slip up. That's the feeling you get.

"One thing we do need is for everyone who wants Blackburn Rovers to do well to lighten up.

"The fans at Tranmere on Saturday were really good but we need everyone to be like that.

"Somewhere along the line we need some help."

The only consolation for the manager on Saturday, and it was a slight one, was the general performance - much improved on recent away displays. "On the positive side, we have had two good performances and I thought the players gave their all," said Parkes.

"But it was very disappointing to lose after playing very well up to putting the ball in the net.

"That's no different to what has happened on so many occasions.

"We had a lot of chances, you don't need to tell me how many. We had spoken about their offside trap and knew the way they were going to play."

Ironically, Rovers dealt with Tranmere's main threat - Dave Challinor's long throw - with very few problems.

They posted a man in front of Challinor and the defenders generally won the aerial battle.

But it was at the other end they had their biggest problems, missing chances.

"It was there for everyone to see," said Parkes.

"We dominated the game and should have been worthy winners. We weren't and I suppose that's why we are where we are in the league."

Jason McAteer is ruled out for tomorrow's game at Ipswich after straining a hamstring in the first half at Tranmere.

Rovers' championship-winning under-19 academy side wrapped up their league programme with a 2-0 win over Barnsley thanks to goals from Marc Richards and an own-goal.

And the under-17s kept their outside title hopes alive by beating Barnsley 2-1 with Danny Stone and Liam Blakeman on target.

Midfielder Wayne Gill was leaving Ewood to join Blackpool on a free today in a deal to the end of the season, with the prospect of a longer contract. He is set to make his debut against Wigan tomorrow. Rovers will receive a percentage of any future transfer.

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