Ronnie Moore believes a mounting injury list has threatened his Tranmere side's position at the summit of League One.
The early-season pacesetters still hold first place, but only by virtue of a superior goal difference to in-form Doncaster having taken two points from the past nine on offer ahead of this weekend's trip to Sheffield United.
Medial ligament damage means captain James Wallace has joined forward Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro and winger Abdulai Bell-Baggie on the sidelines, while a host of key players, including Andy Robinson and Joe Thompson, have only recently resumed first-team duties.
"We've been fantastic for the most of the early part of the season," said Moore. "Where we are is a tribute to everybody.
"The players have been fantastic. If somebody had said to us at the start of the season 'that's where you're going to be', no one would have believed it with the budget that we're on and what we have to work with.
"But they've been fantastic so there's no pressure on us. We're not expected to be there, that's the main thing.
"I think we've surprised nearly everybody this season, in our league especially.
"Everywhere you go people are talking about Tranmere Rovers and how well they're doing.
"When you pick up your injuries that's when it gets tough because you don't have the depth. You haven't got the wages to pay to be able to have the depth.
"It's going to hurt you when you pick up your knocks and that's what's happened to us, unfortunately. We know this is a crucial week for us."