Accrington Stanley’s assistant manager Jimmy Bell has not given up hope of mounting another promotion push this season.
Stanley have a free weekend having been knocked out of the FA Cup by Notts County, which has allowed them to take stock of the campaign so far.
Having lost so many members of the side that reached the play-offs last term, the Reds were always going to need time to gel this season.
But after going unbeaten in their last four league games, which has pushed Stanley up to 17th, Bell believes he and manager John Coleman can still put together a team capable of emulating the storming finish that carried them into last term’s top seven and a play-off semi-final against Stevenage.
"It’s been a difficult season with all the players that left (in the summer), and not having money to bring players in," said Coleman’s number two.
"But with the squad we had at the start of the season, we’re round about where we thought we would be at this stage.
"We haven’t got enough points to be challenging the play-offs at the minute. We were in a similar position in the league last year but we were starting to get a decent squad together.
"We’re not as good as last year, we know that, but it was an ongoing thing, building the squad up during the season.
"Eventually it all fitted in and we’ll live and hope that can happen this season."
Since the season started, Stanley have signed striker Padriag Amond from Ireland, who came off the bench to score twice in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Dagenham and Redbridge.
Veteran midfielder Bryan Hughes has agreed non-contract terms while 18-year-old strike pair Micah Evans (Blackburn) and Jayden Stockley (Bournemouth) have arrived on loan.
Stockley this week extended his stay at the Crown Ground and, when the window reopens in January, it is the loan market Stanley’s management duo will scour in a bid to unearth a gem that will fire them into promotion contention.
"Saturday’s game was a massive result to stay away from that trapdoor, to put a bit of distance between us and Dagenham," said Bell.
"It’s 10 points now and obviously if they’d have won it’d be a lot closer.
"I think we’re quite strong defensively and in midfield, we’re just short of a few goals. That’s been our main Achilles heel.
"We’ve had Craig Lindfield and Padraig, we’ve also brought in Jayden and Micah, and they’ve all scored in the last few games.
"Hopefully that’ll be a springboard for us, they’ll grow in confidence and can go on to score a few more goals between them.
"But we’ll still be looking to bring a couple of players in to strengthen us," added Stanley’s assistant boss.
"We cut our cloth accordingly so we know what kind of players we’ll be looking to bring in.
"Jayden’s very inexperienced but he’s the kind of player we’re looking for.
"He’s got a lot of potential – it’s whether he can sustain a good run of form.
"We’re just hoping that he can show that potential for us over the next month or so.
"Micah Evans is the same, we’ve got a lot of potential at the club at the minute. Whether that’s enough to catapult us up towards the play-offs places, I don’t know, but it’s certainly better than what we had at the start of the season."