Paul Hartley hopes Cove Rangers can weather their player shortage as the season approaches its halfway point.
Defenders Harry Milne and Daniel Higgins will miss this weekend’s game against Stenhousemuir with hamstring issues. The latter is likely to be out until the end of January.
They will also be without loan midfielders Chris Antoniazzi and Matty Smith through long-term injury, although Declan Glass returns to the side after serving his suspension.
Stenny visit the Balmoral Stadium tomorrow, with Cove holding a two-point advantage at the top of League Two despite back-to-back defeats.
Hartley said: “We have been tight with numbers.
“We’ve had some injuries and Declan’s sending-off, but that’s part and parcel of football.
“This season, I said to the board and the players, it was going to be a bit of a rollercoaster, where things don’t always go your way.
“We have to show the mental strength to get through the next period of games and get a fully-fit squad. We travelled to Annan with only 12 outfield players and had one extra last week.
“But there have still been a lot of positives to take.”
Fraser Fyvie and Mitch Megginson also missed the Annan Athletic game but returned last week, while Ryan Strachan came in after nearly three months out with an Achilles problem.
Cove have been further boosted by the signing of former Motherwell and Watford academy defender Tom Leighton on a deal until the end of the season.
The versatile Northern Irishman, capped for his country at age-group level, has been a free agent since leaving Stenhousemuir in the summer.
As a youngster, he was offered a trial with Benfica and worked with Cove assistant Gordon Young while at Fir Park.
Hartley said: “Celtic and Aberdeen had looked at Tom since he came back to Scotland, so we are delighted he has agreed to join us.
“He’s a very promising young player who needs a chance to get on in the game and we are happy to give Tom that opportunity.
“Gordon rates him very highly and managed to persuade Tom to come and train with us over the last couple of weeks.
“He has really impressed with his pace, use of the ball and reading of the game. We are confident he can do well for us.”
Stenhousemuir inflicted Cove’s first defeat of the season on them at the start of October.
However, they have won just one of six league games since and sit eighth in the table.
Hartley added: “They are a good team – they’ve brought in a couple of players that have played at a good level. We have to be aware of that. They inflicted our first defeat of the season down there.
“Every game so far in this league has been hard to predict at times, from top to bottom.
“But our home form has been superb and we want to keep that going.”
Hartley was also pleased with the re-signing this week of Milne, who penned a three-year contract extension on Wednesday.
He has been a regular in the Cove side since 2014 and is now tied down until 2022.
Manager Hartley added: “He’s made a very big impression – but there’s still a lot to come from him.
“He’s done very well and it’s good to get him tied up for the next few years.
“He’s got good attributes and there are still parts of his game we think he can improve on.
“In terms of attacking-wise and positional sense, he’s terrific.”