WHILE the Monaro Panthers Women's Premier League team are a massive nine points clear on top of the ladder a player availability crisis will test them for the next two months with six key players out of action.
Coach Tilly Carbone will be reduced to just eight players from his small squad of 14 first grade girls during this time, meaning young players from the under 19s squad will be called in to fill these gaps.
But what will make things more challenging is the big shoes to be filled, with WPL star strike weapons Ashleigh, Brittany Palombi and Jaline Hoek each departing for holidays within the next two weeks.
This adds to the long term casualty ward that includes defender Liz McPherson and mid-fielders Nikola Orgill and Hayley Hind.
With a damaged ACL sustained against Tuggeranong a fortnight ago, McPherson could be out for the rest of the season, while Orgill and Hind could have at least another month on the sideline.
Carbone said the next several weeks would prove "a great challenge" for his players and particularly the under 19s girls stepping up to first grade.
"We've started that process through training sessions were they come in with first grade, and we purposely brought them off the bench against Weston last Sunday just to ease them in," he said.
Three under 19s players in striker Lauren Harper, mid-fielder Julia Bedin and defence utility Kass Gugliemien have already played interchange for Carbone, with Harper and Bedin taking the field for the first time against Weston in the Premier League.
Bedin also had some game time in the pre-season Federation Cup tournament.
"We'll look to ease them in and develop their confidence because we may be relying on them for at least a six week period," he said.
Carbone will still have the luxury of playing other stars in leading goal-scorer Meg McLaughlin, Georgia Fogarty, Stephanie Coates, Gill Raymond and Lizzy Read, but admitted they would be under pressure with the inclusions of younger players.