Nottingham Forest have another five games to come in December, so Stuart Pearce will need to manage his squad carefully if he is to enter the New Year with a promotion push building, rather than fading.
The City Ground boss can consider himself fortunate to be working with a well-stocked squad, with the continued backing of chairman Fawaz Al Hasawi having allowed regular forays to be made into the transfer and loan markets.
Forest have, however, still endured their share of injury struggles this season, with the demands of Championship competition and the training required to get players into peak condition having taken its toll.
Key men such as Andy Reid, Chris Cohen and Jack Hobbs have spent longer on the sidelines than Pearce would have hoped, with the trio likely to have filled important roles in his plans following his return to Trentside over the summer.
He is without the services of all three at present, with club captain Cohen expected to miss the remainder of the season after damaging cruciate knee ligaments for a third time.
Positive progress is being made, though, by Reid and Hobbs in their respective rehabilitations, with it possible that the pair could be ready for recalls in the not too distant future.
Pearce told Forest Player: “I saw the specialist a week ago, who was very pleased with their progress. Both of them have done everything expected of them at this stage of the recovery.
“They’re doing a lot of gym-based stuff, they’ve not been outside on the grass as yet, but their recovery is to a timescale. The medical staff are outstanding here so they’ll bring the players back when they’re right.”
Reid’s absence has been keenly felt, with Forest never quite the same side without the mercurial Irishman – with fitness issues in the last couple of seasons having seen their form dip when he was out of action.
Hobbs is also a talismanic figure in an important area of the field, with the commanding centre-half boasting the physical attributes and game-management skills to help bring the best out of those around and in front of him.
Were Pearce to welcome either back over the coming weeks, he would consider that to be a welcome boost as he endeavours to piece together a sustained bid for a return to the Premier League Promised Land.