Cove Rangers boss Paul Hartley reckons it is even more challenging being a lower-league manager this season than last.
Hartley has had a Covid outbreak to contend in pre-season at Cove as well as injury problems that have hampered an already-small squad.
Cove were able to name just two substitutes in the game against Clyde and were hit further when defender Jevan Anderson went off injured.
Hartley is keen not to use it as an excuse but stressed it will be a problem faced by many clubs this season.
The Cove boss said: “It’s not been ideal as your preparation gets disrupted but we’re not the only club in this position. We’ve just got to try muster a squad together – we did last week.
“We’ve not had our squad together for most of the season so it’s difficult to build momentum.
“I think it’s more difficult to prepare for a game this season. It’s been a bigger challenge, game-by-game, day-by-day, to see what’s available to you.
“You’ve seen the national team suffer with it in the last week, with players they can pick from. I expect it for the season ahead – it’s a challenge for the manager, the players and coaching staff to get as healthy a team as possible but it’s not always possible at this moment in time.
“I don’t think we’ll (lower league clubs) run with big squads. If you’re missing three or four players it can definitely damage you. But we’re trying not to make it an excuse as it’s challenging for everybody.”
Shay Logan and Fraser Fyvie will be back available after missing last week’s defeat to Clyde, while Ross Draper has returned to training.
Anderson will miss out after coming off injured at Broadwood while Harry Milne has been unwell and is unlikely to feature.
Today’s game at home to Stenhousemuir presents a change of pace for Cove, who have taken five points from their opening five games.
The SPFL Trust Trophy clash presents a chance for both clubs to advance in a competition catered towards teams below the top-flight.
Hartley said: “It’s the next game, it’s a cup game and you want to win. The league is the most important for us but you want to try get through to the next round.
“Potentially you can get a run in it, if you get a good draw and are at home. There’s a lot of good teams in it but there’s potential to get a run in it.
“We’ve got a difficult opponent today. They’ve got some good players and we respect the opposition. We’re strong at home and we want to continue that.”