RICHARD Hill believes a bit more ‘gelling’ time is needed before his Eastleigh side are performing at their very best.

But though he admits a few tweaks are needed following Tuesday’s desperately unlucky 2-1 defeat at Woking, he won’t have anybody undermining the effort his new-look squad are putting in.

There were times prior to Hill’s return in February when it looked as if certain players were at the club for all the wrong reasons.

Six months on, Hill couldn’t be happier with the togetherness and commitment of his National League squad.

“The promising signs for me are that we've got a group of lads who have worked their absolute nuts off in the first four games," he said.

“People will say ‘that’s what they’re meant to do’, but I didn’t see much of that when I came back in February.

“In an interview on BT Sport at the start of the season I said we’ve got a group here now who want to be at the club for the right reasons, not the reasons some were here for last year.

“Two managers – John Still (Dagenham & Redbridge) and Micky Mellon (Tranmere Rovers) – phoned me afterwards to say the interview was spot on. That's a big compliment, especially coming from John and Micky.

"I won't have anyone questioning the commitment, endeavour and sheer hard work of these lads.”

If Eastleigh’s luck had matched their workrate at Woking, they would surely have come away with a win.

But they fell 2-0 down against the run of play, missed one penalty before instantly netting another, and then, with all three subs used, lost right-back Gavin Hoyte to a hamstring injury.

“We'd hit the post and bar and I said before the first penalty that it would sum up our night if we missed it,” said Hill. “You think it can’t get any worse and then we lose Gavin Hoyte.

"To cap it off, I was stuck on the M4 for an hour-and-a-half going home!"

Tranmere (3pm) are Saturday’s Silverlake visitors, bringing back special memories for Hill who was assistant to Brian Little at Prenton Park in the mid-2000s when current Rovers boss Mellon was captain.

“In the second season with Brian, Tranmere got beat in the League One play-off semi-finals by Hartlepool - and now they’re coming to Eastleigh. 

"It just shows you the rise of Eastleigh and the decline of Tranmere,” said Hill. “But they’re a great club and I've got good friends from Tranmere who are coming down as my guests.”

The two clubs are locked together in mid-table with five points from their opening four games.

Hoyte and goalkeeper Graham Stack (groin) have no chance of facing Tranmere and doubts remain over Paul McCallum (bruised foot) and Reda Johnson (groin).

Injured centre-back Ryan Cresswell – sidelined since last autumn – has had further keyhole surgery on his knee.