Cove Rangers manager Paul Hartley says he hopes to have a few players back fit for Saturday’s trip to play rivals Edinburgh City.
The League 2 leaders remain five points clear of the Central Belt side, despite a shock 6-1 defeat to Annan Athletic at Galabank.
Injuries already meant Cove had just two substitutes for the clash and, after Jamie Masson had put the Granite City men 1-0 up early on, defenders Daniel Higgins and Harry Milne were both forced off before attacking midfielder Declan Glass was dismissed for a late tackle as Annan romped to victory.
Hartley, whose side trailed 3-1 by the break, giving away penalties in both halves he thinks were “soft”, said: “We’re hoping we have a few back (for the Edinburgh game), but we won’t know that until Thursday.”
Explaining the depths of the promoted Highland champions’ current absence list, he added: “We were really struggling and only had two outfield subs on the bench.
“We’re really five or six players down, and we have to try and muster a team out of that.
“Mitch (Megginson) was a doubt. He had a little niggle during the week in training.
“We gave him until the last minute on Friday, but he couldn’t play.
“Fraser (Fyvie) was the exact same – he felt a little twinge in his thigh on Thursday night and we gave him until Friday.
“We couldn’t risk them, because we’d rather they missed one match than five or six.
“(Ryan) Strachan’s out, Matty Smith’s out, (Chris) Antoniazzi was out and (Alan) Redford was out, so we’re six players down.
“So we’re really low on numbers as we don’t carry the biggest squad.
“That’s not an excuse we’re making, but we are low.
“Then we had the two boys going off injured in Higgy, Harry and Glassy getting sent off, so it was a bad day.”
Hartley admitted the apparent hamstring injury suffered by Higgins “didn’t look great”, and said he and Milne will need to be assessed.
However, he also refused to use injuries to explain away the heavy loss, saying: “It was a bad day for us. We started really well and for 15, 20 minutes we were fine.
“We looked good and then, with Daniel going off, for 70 minutes were really poor.
“We don’t have any excuses – it went wrong on Saturday.
“We lost our discipline and shape at times.
“They were really poor goals and we didn’t play well as a team.”
He added: “We have to move on. We analysed it and the players know themselves they let themselves down and didn’t play well.
“You have to move on in football quickly.
“We’ve got another important away game next week – a big game for us – so we need to look at what kind of squad we’ve got.
“We didn’t perform well, I haven’t had to say that a lot this season.”
Prior to Saturday, Stenhousemuir were the only team to beat Cove this season (3-2).
Hartley sees the lesson in their experience at Galabank, saying: “You’ve got to be on it all the time. You can’t turn up and just expect to win matches.
“We go 1-0 up and for the first 20 minutes we’re fine.
“But it can turn quickly in this league. If you lose your concentration levels, your focus, your discipline and your organisation then you’ll get beat.”