Newcastle Olympic have lost defender Reece Pettit to outside commitments for the season but coach Peter McGuinness is confident he has the stocks to cover for him at the back.
Pettit and Japanese attacker Shinichi Kawachi have pulled out of the shortened Northern NSW NPL season, which could kick-off next month.
Kawachi was set to return for a second season at Olympic but he is unable to get back into Australia because of travel restrictions.
Northern NSW Football and the 10 NPL clubs have agreed on a 13-round season to replace the 18-round competition in place before COVID-19 restrictions prevented it from starting in March.
The new-look season is slated to start on July 11 but government restrictions still need to be eased to allow for the return of adult sport. Under-18 sport in NSW will return from July 1.
In the meantime, NPL clubs are considering changes to player payments to cope with sponsorship losses and the likelihood of crowd-less games. They are also waiting on NNSWF to decide on the level of discounts they will provide on fees.
Lake Macquarie, Adamstown and Broadmeadow will not pay players this year but most clubs are considering offering 33 per cent of original deals.
McGuinness said Olympic would be paying their players but they were yet to decide how much.
"They haven't thrown a figure at the players," McGuinness said.
"They have said they will get something and they touched on the fact most clubs are paying between 25 to 33 per cent."
Kawachi and centre-back Pettit have been the only losses so far from the squad Olympic had in March. They had also lost Marcus Duncan from their defence late in pre-season but McGuinness had faith in his depth.
"He's got too much on," McGuinness said of Pettit.
"He's decided not to have a kick this year, that it's probably the best year to have off. He's doing his builder's licence as well and he's in Sydney a fair bit.
"But we've got Cody Lucas, Blake Green, Kyle Hodges, Tom Stewart [in defence]. Reece Papas and Jake McGuinness can play at the back, Jakob Cresnar can as well, so we've got a few boys there. Cody played at centre-back for almost a full season a few years back so we've got a few options there."
Players have recently returned to contact-free club training with groups of no more than 10 people.
McGuinness said while it was "good to be back", the training restrictions made it difficult to prepare players for competition after a long lay-off.
"You are trying to get them to a level of fitness so they can play football in a short period of time without having any massive intensity in training," he said.
"Until you play five v five or six v six over a decent sizes area where you can be competitive, tackle and put pressure on the ball, they are never going to be right for a game of football.
"I'll be very surprised if people don't fall over with injuries [early in the season]."