When Micky Mellon took James Wallace on loan from Sheffield United in November 2016, the combative midfielder needed no introduction to the home fans.
It was the second coming at Prenton Park for the midfielder that had initially joined the club on loan from Everton all the way back in January 2012. That initial move became permanent the following summer, and Wallace would become an influential figure as Tranmere galloped clear at the top of League One.
However, Wallace suffered a serious knee injury in an innocuous challenge during an FA Cup tie at home to Chesterfield, and his career has sadly been hampered by injury ever since. The impact on Tranmere’s League One promotion charge was stark, as they fell away to a mid table finish.
He did return to play several games for Rovers as they were relegated from League One in 2014 before leaving for Sheffield United on a free transfer. His time at Bramall Lane was also ruined by a host of injuries.
Following intense and lengthy rehabilitation from injuries, Wallace returned from Rovers to help give impetus to an already strong team that was chasing promotion from the National League.
Understandably, he took a while to get up to full fitness. As the season entered its final weeks, Wallace was beginning to look a quality player once again, his vision and passing befitting of at least one level above of where he was playing.
Having turned in an outstanding performance in both the home and away legs of the play-off semi-final against Aldershot, Wallace limped off injured toward the end of the second leg. Typical of his, and Tranmere’s, luck with injuries, it was another lengthy lay-off.
Rovers sadly missed Wallace, and a host of other first team players, as they put in a weak performance against Forest Green at Wembley in the play-off final, subsequently losing 3-1. As pre-season progressed several months later, it was clear that Wallace was not near a return. In September 2017, Micky Mellon confirmed Wallace would need another operation and may not see action for another five months.
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