Mike Jackson says his players can't wait to get their new league campaign started on Saturday but it does not feel the same without the presence of supporters.

Tranmere have kicked off the 2020/21 season with two cup matches, but get down to league business this weekend, when they travel to Nottinghamshire to face Mansfield Town.

Despite the slightly unconventional fixture programming, Jackson feels that the first two games have given him a good look at his squad and where they need to improve.

Speaking to the Globe via a video press conference, he said: “We’ve had these two matches against Harrogate and Port Vale. You can see now the intensity levels go up.

“You get a good feel for how the group is fitness-wise and the stuff that we’ve been working on in the training ground. They’ve been good games for us.”

Rovers were eventually knocked out of the Carabao Cup last weekend following a marathon penalty shoot-out and after drawing in an EFL Trophy Group stage match at Port Vale on Tuesday evening, the hosts out-scored them in another shoot-out to gain an extra bonus point.

Jackson said: “With regards to the penalties, you’ve got to be able to put the ball in the net against the ‘keeper. We’ve said that to the lads.

“It’s disappointing but they’re draws at the end of the day. You want more from them but we’re always working to strive and improve and that’s what we’ve got out of these last two games.

“It’s a squad that’s working for each other and wants to improve all of the time. They want to be part of something.

“I know the areas where I think we need to improve. It has been pretty well documented that I want us to be a bit smarter and slicker in the final third.

“But that’s something we’re working on. With our attacking players, we’ve not had a chance to get them all playing together a lot of the time, with a couple of injuries and things like that.

“One thing the group has already got – when I’ve looked back at the games – it’s willing to graft for each other. That’s a foundation of what we’re working at.

Wirral Globe: Tranmere's supporters have been at the heart of the club's recent resurgence, but currently cannot set foot inside a stadium. Photo: Tony Coombes Tranmere's supporters have been at the heart of the club's recent resurgence, but currently cannot set foot inside a stadium. Photo: Tony Coombes

Tranmere will once again be forced to play on Saturday behind closed doors, as the coronavirus health pandemic continues to disrupt everyday life, with spectator sport being no exception.

Prenton Park was an eerily quite place last Saturday and Jackson did hide the fact that it is something his players will need to adapt to.

He said: “That’s been very strange. It doesn’t feel right, I’ll be honest with you. It’s just not the same. The fans go with the flow of the game. In some games they’re coming with you, when you’re away from home for example.

“It’s just bizarre. I can’t lie. But I think its here for the foreseeable future, which is disappointing because we want our fans back in the ground and I’m sure they want to be back as well. We want that connection with them.

“All I can say is I hope you’re all safe and we want to get you back in the ground as soon as we can, because we need you as well.”

Rovers expect a tough examination on their return to League Two with Graham Coughlan’s new-look side hopeful of mounting a promotion campaign.

Jackson added: “There’s been quite a bit of investment at Mansfield. They’ve been going for promotion for the last couple of years.

“I know the manager very well. I played with him, so I know his strengths and weaknesses and how he likes his team to play. We’re really excited about the game now.”

The Prenton Park boss confirmed that his side has a couple of injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s fixture.

Although he wouldn’t be drawn on who they were ‘in case the other manager is watching’, they are likely to be Corey Blackett-Taylor, who came off against Harrogate with a hamstring complaint and Morgan Ferrier.