EASTLEIGH kick off a hectic run of four games in ten days away at Tranmere Rovers on Saturday knowing their first target is to reach 50 points.

Although the dreaded ‘R’ word isn’t spoken about at the Silverlake Stadium, the 14th-placed Spitfires are nearer the National League drop zone than they are the play-off places having been without a win since January 27.

“We’ve got nine games and we need a couple of wins,” stressed manager Andy Hessenthaler. “We’ve not thought about that (relegation), but we’re not out of it yet.

“Our first aim is to get to 50 points (Eastleigh currently have 46).

“The team got 57 last year and we need to try and beat that if we can.

“We don’t want to get into a scrap near the end.”

Earlier on in the season, it looked as if Tranmere would drown in sea of mediocrity too.

But manager Micky Mellon has steered them up to fourth spot as they bid to reclaim their Football League status.

“I know the manager well from my playing days and, although they got off to a slow start, they’re now where I expected them to be,” said Hessenthaler.

Eastleigh have everyone available bar popular left-back Michael Green who, encouragingly, has started running again after an ankle operation.

"Greener's not ready yet, but it's nice to see him back running on the training ground," said the boss.

With games against Dover (home, Tuesday, 7.45pm), Ebbsfleet (home, Good Friday, 3pm) and Aldershot (away, Easter Monday, 3pm) to come, Hessenthaler will take the opportunity to rotate his squad.

Since defensive titan Reda Johnson returned to fitness, the Spitfires have lined up with three centre-backs, resulting in two 0-0 home stalemates against Halifax and Leyton Orient.

“We’ve had two clean sheets, but we’ve suffered a bit at the other end,” the boss admitted. “We’ve been working hard in training this week trying to get the balance right. We could do with a couple of 1-0ers.

“We had chances against Orient but didn’t take them and a draw was probably a fair result.

"It wasn’t a particularly good game and I think the weather was the winner in the end.”

Saturday's Prenton Park clash is being screened live on BT Sport, kicking off at 12.15pm.

Fans who can’t travel can watch it in the Spitfires’ Hangar bar which opens at 11.30am and closes at 3pm.