Paul Tisdale knows Exeter City need to stay healthy
Having lost influential midfielders Tommy Doherty and Matt Oakley for the foreseeable future, Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale has admitted his side cannot afford any more injuries as they approach the climax of their npower League Two promotion push.
Doherty will out for about four weeks with a back injury he picked up in City's 2-0 win at Port Vale last month, while Matt Oakley dislocated a shoulder in Tuesday's 0-0 draw with Gillingham and could be absent for the rest of the season.
The news of the injuries could not have come at a more inconvenient time as City have already lost regular first-team midfielders Alan Gow and Liam Sercombe for the rest of the campaign.
As a result, Tisdale revealed he will be forced to ask some players to play in unfamiliar roles. "We haven't got a large squad and we are now being stretched to the limit," the Grecians' boss said. "I might have to guess a little bit with young players and fringe players who may be asked to go and do jobs that they haven't done for us yet, and that will be a challenge for them.
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"It is not ideal in a promotion push to be going into unknown situations, but I can't see us being able to bring anybody in, so we will have to see what we can do."
Mark Molesley, who signed for City as a right-sided midfield replacement for Sercombe in January, is one of the players who could be moved into a more central role. He played in that position against Gillingham on Tuesday and Tisdale was impressed with his performance.
"He hasn't played for a couple of weeks now and he had to come off because he had cramp, but I think he did well," said the City manager.
Tisdale is still confident Exeter have enough quality in their squad to fill the gaps left by Doherty and Oakley. "I think every club is going to suffer injuries and suspensions at crucial times so we won't be the only team," he said. "I think we have enough very good players playing in the team at the moment, but the injuries have reduced the squad and we can't afford to lose any more."
Tisdale was slightly aggrieved not to have seen his side take all three points on Tuesday, when City had the better of at least the first half against the leaders.
"We certainly played our game and I'm finding it hard to have any criticism of the players," he said. "We've kept a clean-sheet, we've taken the league leaders right to the end of the game.
"We've had another player [Oakley] carried off. We have been stretched to the limit with the squad again and I think we played pretty well and gave it a really good go.
"The players were not just committed, they tried to do some good things."
Craig Woodman's performance was particularly impressive at full-back, with his long balls finding striker Jamie Cureton in space on numerous occasions in the first half, winning him the praise of his manager.
"Those passes of his are extremely good. It is one of his talents," said Tisdale. "I think Gillingham got closer to him second half and stopped him playing that pass, so credit to them to making some adjustments to their play.
"Craig is a player who has benefited from playing week in, week out. We know he has got good ability, good experience and a good head, and his game is picking up."