Raith Rovers boss Barry Smith admits his table toppers will be tested in the coming weeks after the board ruled out the possibility of signing injury cover.
Recently appointed club captain Kyle Benedictus suffered a leg fracture in the weekend victory over Ayr United that could keep him out for up to eight weeks.
With left back Kevin McHattie also set to see a specialist over an ongoing groin problem, it leaves Raith short of senior players in defence, and manager Smith facing the prospect of fielding youngsters from Craig Easton’s development squad.
“Unfortunately, I’ve been told that there will be no funds available, but that’s the way it goes,” Smith told the Press.
“The board have been good to me up until now with everything I’ve asked for, so we’ll probably have to hope that the young ones step up.
“For me, they were only going to start if they were good enough, and some of them might get thrown in at the deep end.
“Young boys have got to start somewhere, and they’ll just need to get their experience from playing.”
Raith travel to Hampden Park this Saturday to face Queen’s Park and one youngster who could feature is teenage centre-half Dave McKay.
The 19-year-old already has two senior appearances under his belt this campaign but was substituted at half-time in the opening day draw at Alloa Athletic.
“That’s no slight on Dave,” Smith added. “He’s got what we think is a promising future.
“Is he ready to go in and play eight to 10 games in a row? Only time will tell, but it might just have to happen and he might have to step up to the plate.
“But that’s a decision that will be made further down the line.”
Another option open to Smith could be to revert to Saturday’s reshuffle that saw Scott Robertson drop back into defence from midfield following the injury to Benedictus.
“You’ve obviously got a wee bit of concern when you’re putting a player into a different position, but Robbo used his experience and that’s why we put him in there,” Smith said.
“We knew we needed experience for that particular game and he used it well.
“We’re going to have to be very creative. The situation will test us, but I’m confident that the boys will stand up to that test.
“We’re concentrating on making sure that we’ve got a settled team for Saturday, and if boys keep playing the way they are, whether it’s being resilient or the good football we’ve been playing, then we’ll go into the game with confidence.”
All eyes will be on Lewis Vaughan on Saturday as the striker looks to continue his stunning scoring spree.
The 21-year-old has netted in each of the last 10 games and is now three matches away from matching the club’s all-time record.
“All the boys are delighted for him,” Smith said. “He’s done excellent to put himself in that position, but I don’t think Lewis is thinking about records, he just goes into the every game wanting to score.
“We can’t dismiss the fact that Lewis has got the ability to do what he’s doing, but everyone’s taking credit and everyone is enjoying the fact that we’re winning games.”