CRAIG Deans barely had enough senior players to fill the Newcastle Jets bench at the start of the A-League season.
Now, a week into his tenure as head coach, Deans is faced with his first real selection headache.
And he hopes there are plenty more to come.
Ramy Najjarine, Jason Hoffman, Matt Millar and Apostolos Stamatelopoulos are available for the clash against Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Sunday.
In a further boost, Indonesian international Syahrian Abimanyu completes quarantine on Tuesday and fellow on-loan Johor Darul Ta'zim teammate Liridon Krasniqi finishes his hotel isolation period on Wednesday. They have medicals to pass and won't come into contention for selection for a fortnight.
However, Najjarine, Hoffman, Millar and Stamatelopoulos are ready to go.
"I have already had to make a really, really tough call with the goalkeeping situation," Deans said. "That is part of coaching. You have to make those tough calls.
"It is a good situation to be in. Having competition for five or six different positions lifts the training standard as well.
"You win things with a squad not a starting XI. Everyone has to understand that at some point they may be in a position they don't want to be in. But they have to react in a positive way and work for the team."
Najjarine was in career-best form before he succumbed to a ankle injury - the result of heavy attention from rival defenders - and missed the 1-0 win over City and Sunday's scoreless stalemate with Brisbane.
"Ramy trained the last two sessions but when we got to Brisbane his ankle was a bit sore on Sunday morning and we decided it wasn't worth it," Deans said. "The ankle is badly bruised. He actually did very well, to play the two or three games after it happened.
"It is one of those injuries where once it settles down completely, it will be right."
Deans said Hoffman would have played against Brisbane if it had been a final.
"He landed awkwardly in the game against City and over stretched his groin," Deans said. "He doesn't have a tear in there, is was just tight. We can afford to be a bit more patient with things like that now."
Millar finished quarantine two weeks ago after returning from a loan stint at English League One club Shrewsbury Town, and was to be on the bench against Brisbane.
However, he was ruled out due to border restrictions in Queensland after he travelled to COVID hot spot Melbourne mid-week for a funeral.
He had a COVID test on return to Newcastle which was negative and will resume full training on Tuesday.
Stamatelopoulos has been with the Jets for three weeks after being released from Western United but is not allowed to play in the A-League until the transfer window opens Tuesday.
The 21-year-old striker scored a brace for the Jets youth team in a trial against Newcastle OIympic and gives Deans another option in the front third.
"AP (Stamatelopoulos) is similar to Roy O'Donovan in a lot of ways," Deans said. "He plays with high energy, is really positive with his runs, puts himself about and has a good attitude. He is 21 and has a lot to prove like a lot of these young kids who are playing now.
"It will be difficult for him to get into the team because we are doing well at the moment. He just has to be patient and work hard. He will definitely get an opportunity off the bench at some point in the next couple of weeks."
The fresh faces are not restricted to the pitch.
On anointing Deans, Jets executive chairman Shane Mattiske said the coach would be given support.
"I have spoken to some people I want to bring in," he said. "We are looking at a senior assistant coach and a video analyst and all the software that goes with the analyst.
"I would prefer to get someone with a bit of experience. We have a young coaching staff. Daniel McBreen is in his third year as youth team coach. He will stay on as second assistant. and continue to develop.
"I need to talk to Shane and get approval from the new board. How long that takes, I'm not sure."