EOIN Toal will be suspended for today’s game against Peterborough United – but Ian Evatt wants to see one of his fringe men follow the Northern Irishman’s path to first team stardom in the coming weeks.

Twelve months ago, the centre-half had just one EFL Trophy game to show for his move from Derry City to Wanderers in the summer transfer window and had struggled to overcome an ankle problem.

But towards the end of the year Toal and Will Aimson helped to solve a defensive injury crisis, after which he became a regular member of Evatt’s back three.

A door could be open for Will Forrester this afternoon, with the former Port Vale man able to slot into any of the three defensive positions.

Evatt hopes that there will be another silver lining to the injury clouds that have gathered in the last couple of weeks around the Toughsheet Stadium.

“Football is a game of opportunity and when you have injuries then there are chances for some to step up,” he said.

“I have said to them this morning: ‘If not you, then who?’

“They need that mindset. They have to grasp any chance they get with both hands.

“Last year we had injuries about this time, again, and it unearthed Eoin Toal. He really stepped up to the plate and he hasn’t looked back ever since.

“There are opportunities for people to stake a claim and whatever team plays against Peterborough will be strong enough to win the game.”

Players like Luke Hutchinson, Matt Tweedly, Nelson Khumbeni and Luke Matheson have also been phased into the first team training group to help make up numbers at Lostock, and those same players could potentially be used against Peterborough this afternoon.

Evatt remains confident that his starting XI will be strong enough to carve out a result against another side expected to be challenging for honours at the end of the season.

“We have got a fantastic group of players and a B Team which is developing and improving all the time,” he said. “Without Eoin this weekend but there is no room for sulking, the time now is for focus, preparation is everything, and we need to replicate everything we are doing on the training ground consistently for 90 minutes.

“I have seen some brilliant spells and flashes where we have blown teams away. It could have happened against Reading on Saturday if we had finished the chances.

“We have to start doing that more consistently over 90 minutes and that is everything we are working on at the moment.”

Peterborough have enjoyed a mixed start to the campaign but have come up against most of the clubs expected to challenge at the top end of the table this season.

Their 3-0 win against lowly Cheltenham Town on Tuesday night put them level on points with Bolton, having played a game more, and within striking distance of the automatic promotion spots.

Much of their summer was spent remodelling a squad, with Darren Ferguson aiming at a young, more energetic style, but their chief goal threat for the last few season, Jonson Clarke-Harris, remains front and centre, despite being placed on the transfer list.

Both Wrexham and Bristol Rovers made bids for the 29-year-old in the summer window but several clubs, including Bolton, passed on the opportunity.

Posh wanted £800,000 for Clarke-Harris plus an extra quarter of a million based on appearances and promotion bonuses.

Evatt says he will not be the only attacking player in a Peterborough shirt capable of doing damage this afternoon.

“That is the strength of their team – they have front players who are very dangerous,” he said. “Quick, skilful, can score from all different positions and all different types of goals, Jonno is one of them but you have Mason-Clark and Poku who are dangerous, Randall from number 10, that is the strength of their team. I think they are an exciting side.

“It will be a challenging game and it has possibly been made more so by the injuries we have got but a league campaign lasts 46 games. This is three points we are fighting for but we won’t get any prizes in September. We are in a solid position having played seven games and we need to take advantage of it and get another result on Saturday.”