KEITH Curle said the Papa John’s Trophy tie with Salford City highlighted how threadbare his squad is.

The Latics head coach had been hoping to add two further signings to his squad before Tuesday night’s deadline after being beset by injuries and absences related to Covid and international duty since the start of the season.

Ouss Cisse, Jamie Hopcutt and goalkeeper Danny Rogers are among a clutch of players who are enduring a spell on the sidelines, with summer signing Sam Hart the latest to be lining up for the physio's treatment table.

The left back limped off inside the opening 20 minutes of last weekend's win over Sutton United last weekend.

Hart’s absence led to a debut for second year scholar Benny Couto. And while the 17-year-old impressed and did not look out of place, the situation highlighted a shortage of senior options at Boundary Park.

“I think it shows that we are thin on the ground, “ said Curle, who could also be without playmaker Dylan Bahamboula for up to 20 days because of Covid restrictions following his international commitments with Congo.

However, having secured a 1-0 win in midweek the Latics chief was determined to focus on the positives of the hand that he has been dealt.

“The important thing is I think it shows the squad morale, mentality is there and a good understanding of what we’re trying to do not only in games but leading up to games. They’re taking on board the information, they’re asking questions among themselves, which is what you want. It shows you there’s a focus among the group.”

Another positive for Curle was the performance of Kyle Jameson after reintroducing the defender into the starting XI, along with winger Nicky Adams.

“If you want to be successful and grow momentum you need a squad and a squad mentality as well,” said Curle.

“You name the team on a Friday there are some unhappy players because they want to be playing. I fully understand that, but then it’s managing their disappointment within the group environment is massively important.

“That understanding of 'be ready when needed'. I think that showed.

“Some players got an opportunity that may not have played on Saturday, but they came in and put in a good performance.”