Preston North End manager Alex Neil has had plenty of selection problems this season with more and more injury issues thrown his way.
But he is hoping that after the latest blow, with Callum Robinson ruled out for a minimum of three months, that someone else can step up to the plate and take the chance that will come their way.
Speaking to iFollow PNE ahead of Tuesday night’s clash with Middlesbrough, the North End boss says those who have bided their time, can now shot what they are capable of.
“That is going to be a big part of it now for us,” said the gaffer. “We have had lads who have probably been a bit frustrated that they have not been given enough time. They have been accepting of the fact that the other lads have been doing well and they need to bide their time, but that time has now come for a lot of these lads to step up and show us what they can do.
“I am excited for them. I am disappointed by the fact that we haven’t maybe got the strength in depth now behind them to make sure even when they do fatigue, we have other guys to help them, so we are going to rely on these boys to step up to the mark now and show us what they can do.
“To be fair, over the season, sporadically when they have had opportunities, they have done well and now they have a chance to do it consistently. I am confident that they can step up.”
The test for whoever makes the starting line-up on Tuesday is Tony Pulis’ side, who moved back into the automatic promotion places with a 2-1 win at Brentford on Saturday evening.
And the PNE chief is expecting a different game to the recent home challenges his side have faced: “They are going to be a physical team,” he continued. “We have to embrace that physical challenge and make sure that we compete well enough, because if we don’t, then we will find it a tough evening.
“They have quality players in their ranks. I have worked with a couple of them; Jonny Howson – who did really well for me down at Norwich – and Jordan Hugill, who everyone is aware of, so they have some good players. Stewart Downing has some real quality as well, so we can’t underestimate the quality that they have.
“They will be really well organised and well-drilled and we have to make sure that we move the ball and we compete as well as we possible can, because if we do that, then we have a chance.
“Although their team was considerably changed, we scored two against them in the Cup and two against them in the league at Deepdale last season and the goals we have been scoring, we are capable of getting one or two, we just have to make sure we do both sides of the game in the match really well, because it is going to take a lot of concentration.
“You want to apply a high press and try and win the ball, but not so much that they can just fling the ball forward to Jordan’s feet, because we know how strong and physical he can be. So, we are going to have to counter-act both sides of their game and if we can do that then hopefully we can imprint our style on them.”
His side are now eight games unbeaten and full of confidence, but he is wary of an ‘after the lord mayor’s show’ situation, following the thumping win over Lancashire rivals Blackburn Rovers.
“I have been involved in a lot of big derbies and once you come away with a positive result, sometimes after all the emotion, the next game becomes a bit of a damp squib.
“Everybody is a bit mentally fatigued and physically fatigued; so we need to clear our minds and make sure that we have no hangover from the weekend’s game.
“We need to put our soul focus on winning this match and playing as well as we possibly can,” he added.
For the full interview, as the manager discusses Callum Robinson’s injury and his evolving plans for the January transfer window, click on the video at the top of the page.