Hartlepool United still have a hangover from the injury suffered to star man Nathan Thomas, according to Michael Woods.
But the Pools midfielder admits that far too many of the club’s under-performing squad have failed to step up to plug the gap left behind by the in-demand wideman.
He is excellent. He can’t be replaced, not like-for-like.
And Woods highlights himself as one of the worst culprits.
He said: “We have had some key players missing this season. Now that is no excuse for recent performances but the ones who are out would be missed by any team at this level.
“Mags (Carl Magnay) has been a miss at right-back and Nath is the best player in this league on his day.
“He is excellent. He can’t be replaced, not like-for-like.
“They are players in key positions.
“The lads who have come in have to come in and prove they can do a job. Too many of us haven’t done that.”
On his own season, Woods holds his hands to say it has been far from ideal.
Injury has robbed him of game time for large spells of the campaign to date, but even when he has been handed the chance to shine, he’s failed.
“I am not stupid. I have to admit that some of my performances have not been good enough.
“It’s been frustrating. I had a good pre-season. I had the niggly Achilles and you do all the pre-season to get fit and you are back to square one with an injury.
“Two months hard, tough work was wasted.
“From a personal level I need to produce on the pitch.
“There is competition for places here and you have to play well to stay in. I haven’t done that, hence why I have been in and out.”
Having been at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium for three seasons now, Woods has seen the highs and lows life at Pools can bring.
One thing he does understand is that fans at the Vic will accept a poor performance from a player. But what they will not stand for is a lack of effort.
That’s something he hopes the players can get right this weekend, when they travel to Portsmouth.
He said: “When you come in you have to fight for the shirt. That’s what the fans want.
“The fans will accept a bad performance. That happens. What they will not accept is a lack of effort.
“We need to show a bit of passion. We need to stick our foot in.”