Mansfield Town take on a visiting Stevenage side in the midst of a major injury crisis on Saturday.
Although Stags are starting to look a little threadbare, Stevenage currently have about 11 first-team players out injured, including captain Scott Cuthbert, influential defender Ben Nugent, summer signing and ex-Stag Paul Digby and mercurial attacker Ben Kennedy.
Boro’s inexperienced back three has included 17-year-old Luis Fernandez and 19-year-old Kelland Watts, both making their EFL debuts against Orient.
Stevenage are also massively missing the eye-catching talent of Ilias Chair.
Mansfield fans will remember the young attacker after his winner in the away fixture last season, and he was instrumental to Stevenage’s success at the end of last season as they went six games unbeaten.
He has now returned to QPR after his loan ended and has been getting good minutes in the Championship, which really highlights his quality.
That quality has not been replaced by Boro - although it was always going to be a tough task as Chair is a special player - and it’s hit them hard early in the season.
Although he’s yet to score this season, Kurtis Guthrie is the danger man up front. A real handful for defenders, with bags of pace and plenty of height, when it’s his day he’s very hard to stop.
Paul Farman has been excellent in goal this season too, making top saves and keeping the score down in every game so far. He’s got plenty of experience, which will be key in helping Stevenage young stars.
It’s not been a great start to the season.
Stevenage lost on the opening day, 2-0 to Salford, before losing 1-0 at home to Exeter - although the late goal shouldn’t have stood after an elbow from Tom Parkes on Chris Stokes. In those two games, they had just three shots on target.
They were much improved in the next two games, testing Southend United in the Carabao Cup but ultimately losing 2-1, before playing out an entertaining 0-0 draw with Orient in which they should have had a penalty.
Stevenage then came close on several occasions on Tuesday night, but visiting Bradford City continued their unbeaten start in League Two as they were gifted victory thanks to a Tom Soares own goal.
Stevenage’s aim before the season started was to make the play-offs, so this is not how they would have wanted to begin the campaign.
If they can find a player to create chances, bring in a few more bodies and get injured players back, they could still turn the form around quickly and avoid a repeat of last season in pushing for the play-off places but coming up short and finishing mid-table.
Summer shuffle at Stevenage
In - Dean Parrett, Chris Stokes, Tyler Denton, Paul Digby, Jason Cowley, Jamie Fielding, Paul Taylor, Tom Soars, Joel Rollinson, Sacha Bastien, Kelland Watts (loan), Noor Husin, Charlie Carter.
Out - Luke Wilkinson, Ronnie Henry, Michael Timlin, Alex Revell (retired), Johnny Hunt, Joe Martin, James Ball, Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Donovan Makoma, Mark McKee, Oliver Byrne.