IAN Dawes says that Tranmere’s players and staff need to put Keith Hill’s sacking behind them as they prepare to face Morecambe in the League Two play-offs first leg at Prenton Park on Thursday evening.

Around 3,400 supporters will be in attendance to watch Rovers try and keep their promotion hopes alive against the Shrimpers, before heading to the Mazuma Stadium on Sunday for the return leg.

But with Hill relieved of his duties last week, it’s interim manager Dawes who will be leading the Whites’ charge to Wembley.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference today, he said: “Nobody likes to see anybody lose their job. No one really expected it but it happened.

“I ended up with a good relationship with the gaffer (Hill). We move on and we’ve got to prepare for the next two games now.

“We’ve got to go into it with the right frame of mind. It’s a professional job that we need to do and we’re all on the same page in doing that.”

Dawes remained tight-lipped on whether top-scorer James Vaughn would be involved from the start, but with the exception of captain Scott Davies, the club has reported a clean bill of health for their most important match of the season.

Rovers will be keen to lay down a marker in the first leg, particularly given that they will have supporters in Prenton Park for the first time this year, a fact acknowledged by Dawes.

He said: "It will make a massive difference. You can see all around football. (From the) Premier League right the way down that it's just not the same without the fans. Even more so for us because it's well known how good our fans our, how loud they are and how much they are behind the team.

"They live for that game and we've probably been hurt as much as anyone without them, so we're really looking forward to that."

Supporters have been critical of Tranmere's recent lack of firepower and creativity in attack, which has partially been attributed to their failure to get promoted automatically.

When asked what needed to change for the playoffs, Dawes said: "I think just letting the players be free to go an attack, letting them relax in attacking situations. No pressure on them getting the right players in the right areas at the right times.

"They've got to make the decisions at the end of the day, but they've got to feel free to do it.

"As long as we're creating changes I think we have got the players on the pitch to score the goals."

Remarkably, this is Dawes second stint this as interim manager, after he successfully filled the void left by the sacking of Mike Jackson before Hills eventual appointment.

When asked how he could change things now after working for over five months as part of Hill's backroom staff he said: "I've probably had more time now than I did last time when Jacko was relieved of his duties.

"That was on the Sunday and we only had the Monday prep going into the Tuesday night Harrogate game. It's was almost instant.

"The good thing is we've had over a week now to prepare for this game so we've been able to do a little bit more on the grass, which is good.

"The most important thing is that I think that the players are clear after today what's expected of them going into the game, so hopefully that comes out on Thursday.

"If you look at the group we've got here, it's more than capable of getting promoted. We're a little bit disappointed, when you look at the quality in training, that we haven't been able to replicate it as much on match days.

"There's more pressure on everybody now because the expectation from the fans is to go up and we've got to handle that pressure but just enjoy it as well because we know that the fans will be right behind us in this tie."