ERNIE Merrick will look to "freshen up" the Newcastle Jets for the trip to Perth on Sunday but the coach won't be able to call on any of his big guns.
Captain Nigel Boogaard is the closest to a return from injury, but is still a fortnight away. Panamanian striker Abdiel Arroyo (hamstring) is "four to five weeks" from playing and former Norwich and Irish legend Wes Hoolahan is not expected to be available until February.
Merrick admitted the Jets could have done with Boogaard's leadership in the listless 4-0 loss to Melbourne City at McDonald Jones Stadium
"It was a bad day in the office," Merrick said.
"But I've got to have a good think about the next game against Perth Glory away from home on Saturday, and freshen up the team because we can't turn out like that again.
"I could freshen up five or six players, but I haven't got people to put in there. None of the injured players are going to be available next week. I can't bring Nigel back. We could have done with his leadership at the back because we were all over the place. Wes is going to be early-to-mid February and Arroyo is going to be another four or five weeks.
"We've got some other boys on the bench we'll have a look at. I don't want to pick any of them out and say they did well when they went on (against City).
"I just think all round it was a very poor performance by the Newcastle Jets and everyone has to take the blame for that, including myself."
Bobby Burns, Kaine Sheppard, Matthew Ridenton and Pat Langlois would the be the front-runners for promotion.
Boogaard has been sidelined since straining his adductor in the lead-up to the 1-all draw with Perth at home six weeks ago.
"It flares up just when he thinks it is coming good," Merrick said. "Another week or two and he should be right."
Merrick refused to lay the blame for the goals against City on the back four.
"We got caught out a few times. It was a poor defensive display, but not just by our backline," he said.
"Our midfield were at sixes and sevens and up front we didn't press the ball at all and they were able to pick their passes easily.
"When we did get the ball we didn't hang on to it. I just think we were intimidated by a team who scored early and looked like they wanted to win and were desperate to come back from a 3-0 defeat to Perth."
The loss was not how Merrick had hoped Nikolai Topor-Stanley would mark his 300th A-League game. It was also a milestone for Steve Ugarkovic and replacement Matt Ridenton, who reached 100 games.
"To his credit Nikolai has 300 games under his belt and never lets us down," Merrick said. "He is a great player but it's a team of 11 players. He didn't get a lot of help to get a clean sheet. Steve Ugarkovic couldn't do anything right, just one of those days. Matt Ridenton came off the bench ... the three boys who did have the milestones it was not one they are going to celebrate, that's for sure."