Cove Rangers manager Paul Hartley reckons financial constraints will see many lower-league clubs stick with their squads.
With the January window less than a month away and the majority of clubs in Scotland unable to welcome back supporters, Hartley does not think money will be there to make wholesale changes.
His team have come through the first six games in decent shape but benefitted from retaining the majority of their title-winning side from last season. They have also played all three full-time teams in League One – beating Partick Thistle, drawing at Airdrieonians and losing to Falkirk.
The time to assess Cove’s fortunes will come soon for Hartley, as the first third of the season comes to an end, but he does not foresee too many changes for the remainder of the campaign.
Hartley said: “It’s the first nine games, when you’ve played everybody (is where you can assess it). I don’t think too much will change in squads this year. You might get a couple of ins and outs at clubs but because of the financial constraints, you look at everybody’s squad and say ‘OK, this is how they play, this is their style’. I’m sure teams will do the same for us.
“You have to be on it for the whole 90 minutes – you can’t switch off. I’ve been pleased with how we’ve played in certain aspects of the game but if you switch off, you get punished.
“It’s not an easy league – we knew that coming into it – but we’ll be competitive and we’ve matched every single team so far. I’m pleased with how we’ve performed so far.”
After two weeks on the road, Cove look to extend their impeccable home record today against Montrose.
Cove have not dropped a point in league action at the Balmoral Stadium since joining the SPFL in the summer of 2019, winning 17 straight games.
Hartley added: “They’re a tough outfit and Stuart (Petrie) has done an excellent job there. They’re always competitive and score a lot of goals. We’ll have to be at our best, like every other week.”
Cove welcome back Dan Higgins today, who has overcome a hamstring injury which has seen him miss the last five games.
Hartley added: “He trained Tuesday and Thursday night. We’ve not had too many injuries to deal with – a couple of knocks and niggles. We’ve had Fraser (Fyvie) and Higgy but not a lot of muscle injuries.
“You’re never sure with the long lay-off, but our squad is sitting around 20 all-in, including two keepers, so we’re running with a small squad.
“They came back on August 25 in excellent condition. They worked really hard over lockdown doing a lot of work on their own, which is difficult. But they’ve worked really hard since they’ve come back.”