Preston North End manager Simon Grayson has praised the level of patience shown by those on the fringes of his squad and says all could have a part to play in the promotion push.
A number of players have watched games from the stand in recent weeks, highlighting the strength in depth which Grayson has available.
Jack King, David Buchanan, Josh Brownhill, Alan Browne and Andy Little are among those to have missed out on match-day squads of late.
Grayson has assured them that they could well be needed during the run-in, stressing the importance of keeping themselves in top shape should a recall come their way.
Team selection has been consistent of late in terms of both the starting XI and substitutes’ bench.
“We had an in-house game yesterday morning and I only needed five or six players from the youth team to make up an 11 versus 11 game,” Grayson told the Evening Post.
“That shows what we have got available in the squad here, the depth of talent.
“We had the 11-a-side game to allow those who had not played at the weekend to keep ticking over.
“All the players know they could get an opportunity at any time, whether it is starting out of the blue or because of an injury or suspension.
“Some of the lads who are out of the squad at the moment have probably played 75% of this season and played last season too.
“If they come into the side they know exactly what their role is and what is needed.
“Look up into the stand in a game and there will be five or six lads who have contributed to where we are now and are real talents.
“At any club, the ones not involved in the squad are going to be the ones who take some looking after.
“The 11 starters are the happiest, the seven substitutes are fairly happy, then five or six aren’t gong to be happy.
“We are genuine when we tell them that they have got a chance of getting back in.
“If they weren’t frustrated about not playing, then there would be something wrong.
“We treat them properly, give them the right amount of training and the days off.
“If you look at who hasn’t played too much recently, Josh Brownhill and Alan Browne played a large part earlier in the season, Jack King played a lot of football.
“Then there is Andy Little who has been injured a lot and not quite in the 18 yet.
“But we are very aware of what he is capable of doing.
“We built up the squad in the way we have to make a go of things.”
All the squad got Monday off, Grayson wanting to use the rare clear midweek to allow a re-charge of the batteries.
He said: “It was always my intention to give them Sunday and Monday off, whatever the score was at MK Dons.
“One or two players have been playing with knocks, so a bit of a break won’t have done them any harm.
“It is only the one extra day off they’ve had this week and now we have started to prepare for the Crewe game.”
Tickets went on sale today for a fans’ forum which Grayson is hosting at Deepdale on Monday, March 30.
It is part of the manager’s fundraising efforts for Prostate Cancer UK – in the summer he is cycling from London to Amsterdam.
The first half of the forum will feature Grayson and his backroom staff Glynn Snodin, John Dreyer and Alan Kelly.
Later in the evening, he will be joined by Mark Lawrenson, Kevin Kilbane, Sean Gregan and Paul McKenna.
Tickets for the event, which takes place in the Invincibles Lounge, cost £10 and are available from the Deepale ticket office.