Promotion chasing Harrogate Town are facing a defensive crisis ahead of Saturday’s clash against lowly Lowestoft Town.
Club captain Danny Ellis will miss the clash after he was forced off with a thigh injury during Tuesday night’s 2-1 win over Stockport County.
Fellow centre halves Dave McGurk and Luke Shiels are also sidelined, while left-back Louie Swain will start a suspension after picking up a straight red card in the shock 4-3 defeat at FC United of Manchester on Saturday.
“Definitely in defence we are struggling for numbers,” said boss Simon Weaver.
With Swain’s natural replacement Andy McWilliams loaned out to Whitby Town, Weaver may gamble on young defender Harry Coates on Saturday - while he could also recall veteran Matt Bloomer from his dual-registration at Cleethorpes Town or make a late move in the loan market.
Coates has been featuring for neighbours Harrogate Railway in recent weeks and took a place on the bench against Stockport.
Weaver said: “Harry has been outstanding on loan at Harrogate Railway. He got involved with the squad and we don’t doubt his ability at all.
“I don’t think it would be a gamble. He looks good in training and he’s maturing all the time.
“It’s a big moment for young players to come in when you’re in and around the play-offs at a telling time of the season but it can be the making of someone as well.
“All the lads back Harry, the numbers are small so we might have to increase that but that’s life as well. You have to deal with it.”
However, Weaver chose to throw on striker Jordan Thewlis in place of Ellis in a tactical switch at half-time rather than deploy Coates alongside 34-year-old loan signing Nat Brown.
Paul Thirlwell and Lloyd Kerry are also injury doubts for Lowestoft’s visit but striker Dom Knowles may return to the fold after three weeks out.
Thirlwell suffered a hamstring strain after dropping back into defence while Kerry was substituted in the second half for Tom Platt.
“It’s seems to be hamstringitus at the moment,” joked Weaver. “We’re nursing quite a few players back. We will have to see how many we have available for Saturday.”
Town edged past Lowestoft 2-1 away in October and the Norfolk side are embroiled in the National League North relegation battle.
The Stockport victory lifted Town back into the play-off zone after dropping out following the dramatic defeat at FC United of Manchester.
Weaver added: “It was a massive win for us. You can’t underestimate it. If you have two dips, there might be a couple of lads that doubt it. We haven’t had that all season. So it was a great reaction.”
Meanwhile, Town will attempt to reach the West Riding County Cup final on Tuesday night when lower league Silsden head to the CNG Stadium (7.45pm KO).