Birmingham City approach their 42nd game of the season on Saturday with the demanding schedule beginning to take a toll.
Normally a visit to Chelsea in the fifth round of the FA Cup would fire the imagination and be a game to relish.
But with the Barnsley fixture quickly rearranged and injuries biting somewhat, it’s taken on a little bit of a nuisance value for Blues.
That said, considering the glory of a year ago in the Carling Cup, you should never turn your nose up at any such competition, let alone the FA Cup.
But the tie has come at perhaps the wrong time. Last Saturday’s Oakwell postponement – and Barnsley were culpable for not informing Blues or the referee early enough on Saturday morning that there was a doubt – created a problem.
Blues wanted to reschedule later in the season yet had no choice but to cram the game in on Tuesday.
If Blues had had a free week to prepare for Nottingham Forest’s visit a week on Saturday, it would have suited them better.
And Chris Hughton would probably have picked a stronger side than the one we are likely to see in south west London.
Nikola Zigic missed his third straight match due to a knee injury when Blues faced Hull City in midweek (it would have been four had Barnsley gone ahead as originally planned).
Guirane N’Daw (hamstring) was also absent and Marlon King clearly wasn’t 100 per cent right because of his recent groin niggle.
Throw in the sales of Jean Beausejour, Liam Ridgewell and the lack of replacements – so far – then Hughton’s already thin squad has got thinner still. The manager said: “I certainly have to go into Saturday’s game mindful of the fact that we’ve got a game on Tuesday.
“What I have done in most of our games is use the squad I’ve got, which is a fairly tight squad as it is. It’s not as if I’ve got lots of options to change.”
Hughton added: “It’s a high profile game at the weekend and that always lifts everybody.
“But I have to be mindful that we have another tough game we need to play now on Tuesday.
“That’s unfortunate, we were hoping to get it played later in the season but we need to play it on Tuesday.
“The games come thick and fast, as always, and we will have to work around it the best we can.”
Blues posted their second 0-0 draw at St Andrew’s in three games in midweek, when Hull visited.
The middle fixture in that sequence was a 1-0 win over Portsmouth courtesy of a late Nathan Redmond goal.
Blues have stuttered since their free-scoring spell in mid-January.
But they remain firmly in the Championship promotion mix, in fifth spot.
And Hull were no mugs, as Hughton pointed out. It was their fifth successive clean sheet on Tuesday.
“You look for the positives and as a team we defended well,” said Hughton, whose side are unbeaten at home in the league.
“It’s a proud record we’ve got at St Andrew’s and that means a lot to the players.”
“But in the end sometimes you have to hold your hands up: it wasn’t one of our better performances,” he admitted.