DEFENDER Krystian Pearce's illness fears may be receding, but Torquay United's squad crisis could still see the Gulls having only 16 players available for Saturday's League Two trip to Wycombe Wanderers.
International calls, injuries and illness are set to rule out eight players.
And the 16 left standing include rookie pros Jake Hutchings, 17, and Danny Sullivan ,18, and goalkeeper Michael Poke, who's back in training but hasn't played since the end of last season.
Manager Alan Knill, who declined to extend Derby County forward Callum Ball's loan partly to free up wages, has been on a series of scouting missions this week.
But he could still send the Gulls out to face Wycombe at Adams Park without Aaron Downes, Ben Harding, Billy Bodin, Conor Thompson, loanee Anthony O'Connor, Kirtys McKenzie and out-on-loan pair Niall Thompson and Ashley Yeoman.
There is better news on Pearce and Downes.
There were major worries about Pearce, first after he collapsed in training and then when he was taken to hospital after the 2-1 defeat at Newport County recently.
He has had a series of tests on what's believed to be a blood condition which could have had a major impact on his career.
But Knill revealed: "Krystian is still having more tests, but the problem does not seem to be as serious as we and he first feared.
"He has been told he can come back to work, he has trained with us this week, and that's great news."
Fellow centre-back Downes' injury – he had surgery earlier this week – is not related to knee problems he's had earlier in his career.
"It is a cartilage injury, it has been repaired and we're hoping that Aaron could be back in four weeks, which a lot better than the four months which it might have been."
However, Knill is still without new loan signing O'Connor, Bodin and young goalkeeper Thompson, all on international duty with Eire, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively.
Midfielder Ben Harding, who sustained a foot injury in last Saturday's 3-0 home defeat by York City, is likely to be out for a month.
Kirtys McKenzie is still sidelined by diabetes-related problems.
And Niall Thompson and Yeoman are out on loan to Worcester City and Bideford respectively.
United have even consulted League rules about seeking postponements because of international calls.
Clubs have to have three men called up, but because O'Connor is only on loan and not their own player, that option is not open to them.