Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale might just have a rare luxury to deal with this weekend – a fit playing squad.
After taking on npower League Two promotion rivals Southend United last weekend without three key players, the Grecians' gaffer is sure to have two of the missing men back for tomorrow's home game against lowly Bristol Rovers – and maybe all three.
Scottish maverick Alan Gow, who has been the inspiration behind many of Exeter's better attacking moves this term, missed the 2-1 loss in Essex because Tisdale and his staff deemed he was not quite ready to return from a thigh strain.
Gow will be back to tackle the Pirates, though, as will classy Spanish forward Guillem Bauza, who has been absent with a groin injury. Midfielder Liam Sercombe is not so far down the road to full recovery from an ankle knock, but he has a chance of being fit for tomorrow's game.
When asked about his squad's state of fitness yesterday, Tisdale told the media: "It's taking shape again. We've picked our way through a week or two of injuries.
"Alan Gow is fully fit again, Guillem Bauza also, and Liam Sercombe is possibly 50-50 for Saturday. There's a chance he may be fit.
"Those three players were all unavailable last week, but we have negotiated the 'rehab' period quite well. There are no new injuries and I've got a fully fit squad to choose from – maybe with the exception of Liam," the City boss added.
Even though Exeter lost to Southend, Tisdale is unlikely to make major changes to his team. After all, the reverse at Roots Hall was City's first defeat of the season, and their manager likes to keep faith with players who do well.
"In a perfect situation, I'd like a very settled side," Tisdale said. "I like the back unit of the team to be regular fixtures, and I like to be able to make changes at the attacking end of the pitch for particular games. I don't see any reason to change that philosophy.
"We have a very structured defence, the midfield are working well together, and we have players who can score goals – and they are different players. It gives me options.
"On the whole, I'm very pleased that the side has a settled feel to it, so there aren't too many reasons to change the team other than injuries."
Being beaten by Southend, who came from behind with two goals in the final dozen minutes, hurt Tisdale and his team, because it was, they felt, an undeserved setback. He said: "We've discussed things since last weekend. The irony is that, looking at our four away games so far, that was our most competent.
"For 75 minutes we were extremely controlled in our play and I don't think we deserved to lose the game – but there was a reason why we lost it.
"We spoke about details after the game, not about wholesale changes to the way we play. They [the players] know they played well and, as I was, they were frustrated that they were so in control of that game and they lost it.
"Every team we play against will have the opportunity, as Southend did, to change the way they play. We can't plan for that or predict it, but when it happens we have to adapt and make our own changes."
One defeat in eight games is still a very solid foundation, though. Tisdale admitted: "It's a good place to start from. We're not far away from being a good side, but we have to prove that by learning from the mistakes we made."
Bottom-but-one Bristol Rovers, who are without a win in their seven League games so far, made an eye-catching addition to their attacking armoury yesterday by giving a short-term contract to former Celtic, Hibernian and Scotland striker Derek Riordan.