SOUTHEND United manager Paul Sturrock could have just 15 senior players to pick from for tomorrow's clash at Cheltenham Town.
Freddy Eastwood, Barry Corr, Ryan Leonard and Luke Prosser will all definitely miss the trip to Whaddon Road, while David Martin faces another late check on an ankle problem.
But Blues boss Paul Sturrock insists his team will battle on despite the difficulties.
“These things happen in football and I remember the time when you had no substitutes at all so you just have to get on with it,” said Sturrock.
“You can only ever three subs no matter how many you have on the bench so we'll be OK and we'll go there in confidence having won our last three matches.”
However, the situation is far from ideal for Sturrock whose 15 fully fit players includeyoung midfielder Alex Woodyard who has only ever started one match and 37-year-old assistant manager Graham Coughlan.
The Irishman has not started a match since last August but could now be handed a recall in to the matchday squad for what Sturrock expects to be a very tough afternoon.
“Cheltenham finished in the play-offs last season and I'm sure they will be up there again this time around too,” said Sturrock.
“But the team spirit here at the moment is fantastic and the shape of the side has been good too so we're looking forward to the test.”
Anthony Straker has been placed on standby to replace Martin on the left wing if he fails his late fitness test but the rest of the team looks set to remain unchanged.
That means Cameron Belford will again be on the bench and Sturrock confirmed the goalkeeper would be returning to Bury when his month long loan spell ends after tomorrow's game.
Southend United (from): Smith, Clohessy, Phillips, Cresswell, Barker, Hurst, Spicer, Timlin, Martin, Tomlin, Assombalonga, Harris, Martin, Coughlan, Benyon, Woodyard & Belford