St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright admits it is unlikely he will be able to bring in another midfielder – unless players already at the club head out the door.
The McDiarmid manager had to press centre-half Jason Kerr into service in the middle of the park on Saturday as Saints kicked off their Premiership campaign against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
And Wright admitted that temporary move could become a more permanent one for the 21-year-old with the chances of reinforcements arriving looking slim.
The manager said: “At the minute we won’t be bringing a new midfielder in.
“We have to get players out first for it to happen but we can’t really do that because the squad is thin in numbers.
“So it’s a balancing act. We will have to manage the numbers game properly.
“For someone to come in, we need people to go out.
“So as it stands, I can’t see anything happening with a midfielder in the short-term.
“But the good thing is we have another few weeks in the window.
“The players who are here have to step up.”
Wright added: “We put Jason into midfield and I thought he did as well as anyone.
“He came off because he got tired as it’s a new role for him.
“Jason could play as a holding midfielder in a three, I’m confident of that.
“He actually started his career as a midfielder when he was younger, but he’s more comfortable at centre-back these days.
“If we don’t get a midfielder in then that could be an option.”
St Johnstone suffered a 2-0 defeat against Kilmarnock with Wright admitting the result and performance was simply not good enough.
He added: “I have watched the game back and my feelings are still the same.
“You can lose games, we know that, but it’s how you lose them and certainly the second half on Saturday wasn’t good enough.
“There was a catalogue of mistakes – I counted seven – before their goal, so that has to stop.
“We have to improve. We can’t have people making errors like we did on Saturday.
“The consequences of not improving is you won’t be in the team, simple as that.
“We didn’t keep the ball well enough. With the players we’ve got, we can’t go long all the time and bypass midfield. I felt we did that too often.
“As a group we will analyse the performance, look at where we went wrong and work to improve for the Hibs game.”
That match on Sunday will see Richard Foster return from a ban while there is a chance Joe Shaughnessy will come into contention after recovering from a cut leg. There is also finally better news on Brian Easton following his long lay-off with a groin problem.
Wright said: “Brian and Joe will come back into full training this week, so that’s a positive step.
“And we will have Richard Foster back from suspension for the weekend as well.
“Easty is feeling really good, he’s making good progress.
“He trained last week for a couple of days but we can’t get too excited because of the type of injury he’s had.
“I’m not saying there is light at the end of the tunnel yet, but at least he’s in the tunnel.
“Once he’s back training regularly again it’s going to take him at least a month to get properly fit because he’s been out for so long.
“As for Joe, if he trains well this week then he will be in contention for Sunday.”
Former St Johnstone striker Steven MacLean scored for new side Hearts as they defeated Hamilton on their plastic pitch on Saturday.
More than a few eyebrows have been raised already this season with former St Johnstone striker Steven MacLean playing on plastic pitches for new club Hearts.
That was something he did not do while he was with Saints but he did so again at the weekend, scoring at Hamilton.
However, Wright admitted he was acting on medical advice when refusing to select the veteran front man for games on artificial surfaces.
The manager said: “The reason Macca didn’t play on plastic pitches here was because of me.
“I got medical advice and made my decision because he was my main striker.
“Macca has got to 35 and is still playing in the Premiership. I’d like to think some of that is down to the way we dealt with him.
“He got plenty of Mondays off, for example, and we protected him as much as we could because he was such an important player for us.
“Macca always wanted to play on plastic pitches, he was always on at me to let him do it.
“But I decided it wasn’t happening. I decided what was best for St Johnstone was for him not to play on plastic and I don’t regret that one bit. I stand by it.
“Macca did OK in his time with us, didn’t he? So I’m more than comfortable with the decisions I made.”