With fatigue taking its toll on the West Bromwich Albion team, Tony Mowbray has emphasised the need to make full use of the squad over the course of the next three months.
The Albion manager, whose team secured a satisfactory if hard-earned 1-1 draw at home to Southampton on Saturday, has shown a desire to rest players and give others the opportunity to taste action.
Diomansy Kamara and Kevin Phillips have performed with distinction in recent months but Mowbray decided that his forward line might have needed freshening up during the second half against Southampton. On came Nathan Ellington and Sherjill MacDonald as Albion showed the full range of their striking capabilities.
"Kevin had an exceptionally good game again and worked extremely hard," Mowbray said. "It's all about using the squad and utilising everybody. Nathan is chomping at the bit. He's ready to get going and is telling me he's going to get goals, so I gave him an opportunity. We will be trying to use the squad to the maximum over the next few weeks.
"Kevin is a good player. If he doesn't score he works extremely hard for the team. He never gives people a minute's rest and is always working off the ball as well as on it.
"We need to look after him and rest him at the right times. He's no spring chicken but he is working extremely hard for the cause."
Kamara's performances since the turn of the year have been of Premiership standard and his workrate is such that even he needs a rest. That came when he was substituted during the 77th minute of the match against Southampton.
"Diomansy was originally going to Africa to link up with Senegal but his match got switched to Paris and he had a few days' holiday there because he didn't play!" Mowbray said, with half a smile.
"But he expends a lot of energy in games. Sometimes you have to protect him a little bit. He runs all over the place and works extremely hard.
"The longer the game went on the less effective he became.
"Young MacDonald once again showed one or two flashes of what will hopefully come from him. He's still adjusting to the culture here but you have to give him time on the field."
Usually, Mowbray regards a draw as two points dropped but not here; not against a team he regards with respect; not when his Albion team is suffering for their efforts over the past two months. "We're happy enough with the point," he said. "It was important for us not to lose because you never know what the teams in and around you are going to do.
"Results elsewhere mean it's turned out to be a decent point. It's a big point for us because we've asked these players to go back to the well again. They've put a massive, massive effort in over the last couple of months, played a lot of football matches and we keep asking them to produce again and again.
"In the last 20 minutes, there were signs of fatigue within the team. There is no rest at all because the games are going to come thick and fast. We've got to utilise the squad over the next couple of weeks."