Peterhead boss Jim McInally says keeping a core of experience in his squad has been crucial this season.
The Blue Toon have operated with a reduced budget this term and McInally freshened up his squad by signing a number of young players.
However, he was also able to keep a core of experience at the club with Ryan Conroy and Simon Ferry, both 33, and 40-year-old Derek Lyle remaining at Balmoor while 35-year-old Gary MacKenzie was signed last summer.
McInally believes their experience has been important this term with the Buchan outfit sitting seventh in League One prior to the suspension of lower league football.
The SPFL’s longest serving manager said: “They’re massive players and we had to cut back on the budget this season, but we spoke about the fact we needed to build a team around those players.
“You understand that they will miss some games, but you do need them there, not all of the time.
“There are games you can get away without them. Against Cove when we were down to nine men we didn’t have Gary, Simon and Derek and it was a great learning experience for them.
“But if you were to put them out and ask them to do the same again the following week it might be more of a struggle because those guys weren’t there.
“It’s just part of the learning experience for younger players and that’s why you need that core of experienced players.”
McInally admits the influence of the senior players goes beyond what they do on the pitch, but also the standards they set off it.
He says Lyle in particular sets a great example to his team-mates with his enthusiasm and professionalism.
McInally added: “It’s great when you get guys that enjoy what they’re doing.
“The likes of Gary has had problems with injury and illness this season, but he enjoys what he’s doing and enjoys helping out.
“Derek is the same, he thinks he’s sold himself short this season, but we don’t see that because he’s such an influence with his presence and his professionalism.
“It’s the standards he sets and the way he conducts himself which are big things.
“Derek has gone on in most games this season and when he’s gone on we’ve either been trying to defend something or chasing the game and it’s not ideal for him.
“But credit to him, I said to him when he was considering packing it in, not to and to keep going because he’s important to us.”