Keith Hill says James Vaughan's hopes of appearing in the playoffs for Tranmere are increasing, but they must take care of business on Saturday first.

And the Prenton Park boss accepted that his team simply hasn't scored enough goals this term to have secured the automatic return to League One that supporters have craved for.

Rovers' firepower has been seriously hindered by the loss of top-goalscorer Vaughan, with form taking a serious dip as the former Everton star has recovered from a knee injury, but it appears that there is some hope his season is not yet over.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the visit of Colchester United on Saturday, Hill said: "It's a daily situation that's developing quickly in our favour. We would be very optimistic for some sort of inclusion from Vaughny in the playoffs."

Before Rovers can even start thinking beyond the regular season however, they still need at least a point against Colchester to make absolutely sure of their playoff involvement, but it looks like they will have to do it without versatile midfielder Paul Lewis, who picked up an injury in last weekend's 2-1 loss against Forest Green Rovers.

On the player's prospects for Saturday, Hill said: "(He's) struggling. He could have something very similar to James Vaughan, so we're not too sure if he's going to be anywhere near fit for the weekend. It's touch and go.

"He took a heavy challenge and he was landed on. I think he's ended up doing some damage to his knee."

Pressure is mounting on Hill and his team, who have gone from having a genuine shot at automatic promotion to dragging their heels in securing a playoff position.

A win or a draw will be enough for Tranmere to extend their campaign and even a defeat could see them qualify providing that both Forest Green and Exeter don't secure wins elsewhere.

The Rovers boss has routinely defended players in the face of disappointing results during the run in, but was frank about where his side has failed to meet expectations.

He said: "If I'm being honest with you, we haven't scored enough goals, throughout the course of 45 games.

"We haven't had enough goalscorers - team goalscorers - and that's why we've only scored 55 goals. It's not enough in a promotion campaign.

"We can't rely on clean sheets. We can plan for them but mistakes happen. We're human.

"The players do make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes don't get realised by the opposition.

"On Saturday there were three mistakes in both goals that we conceded, which costs us the game.

"But we work on scoring goals every day in training. That's something that we'll continue to work to try and take a little bit of pressure off the team to keep clean sheets.

"But there has to be a better mental response and a better football response if we were to go a goal behind. We can't become a victim of a scoreline during 90 minutes."

With goals proving hard to come by, the Rovers' starting XI has taken on a variety of different guises in recent weeks, with fringe players granted opportunities to make an impact.

But with the stakes as high as they can possibly be, it looks like Hill will let pragmatism and experience take precedence over rock 'n' roll football when it comes to his starting line-up.

He added: "There's some big characters (in the team) and Saturday's game won't suit everybody. I do know on paper what our best team is, but these situations call for big characters, mental strength, dealing with the 90 minutes, dealing with mistakes.

"We're looking forward to the challenges. We need that bravery out on the pitch and I'm sure we'll get it."

Tranmere Rovers v Colchester United kicks off at 3pm on Saturday, May 8 at Prenton Park. Follow the Globe's live blog for instant match updates.