Pennant likely to start for Stags
Two men suspended but Tampines coach has confidence in his bench
It is a old football cliche that applies everywhere, including the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League.
Over the years, various coaches here have uttered the immortal phrase... "the league's a marathon, not a sprint".
V Sundramoorthy has used it before, but he also knows the importance of getting off to a strong start in any league competition.
The coach of title-favourites Tampines Rovers saw his side held 3-3 by Geylang International in their season opener on Monday, and he will already need to turn to his bench for tomorrow's tasty clash with Warriors FC at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Captain Noh Rahman and Yasir Hanapi, one of the team's brightest sparks in the draw with Geylang, were both sent off and are suspended for tomorrow's match.
Sundram at least has a bench full of quality.
"With the limitations of foreigners this year, and especially now with the two unexpected red cards, we need the other players to step up - and that is why I'm glad we've got a big squad," said Sundram.
"Noh Rahman will be suspended, but we've got options in defence, with Fabian Kwok, Afiq Yunos, Jufri Taha and Mustafic Fahrudin.
"Fara and Jufri are experienced players who have been around for years and they could come in to fill the gap."
The league has reduced its foreign-player quota from five in 2014 to three this year, opening up opportunities for local players to step up.
Sundram has a number of options in midfield, even with Firdaus Kasman being roped in to join the Garena Young Lions before the league's kick-off last week.
Star man Jermaine Pennant, the former Liverpool winger, was brought on just before the hour mark against Geylang and he could be included from the start this time.
"Looking at Yasir's suspension, we'll possibly have to consider playing Jermaine from the start," said Sundram, who also gave a run-out to Christopher van Huizen.
"It is hard to judge him from the 10 minutes he played (against Geylang), but we know what Chris can do, although I think he'll need a bit more time."
Sundram is acutely aware of the need to cut out defensive errors, which he blamed for all three of the goals conceded on Monday, after his charges had taken a 2-0 lead.
But there were also positives for Sundram to take away.
"Don't forget, even with nine men on the pitch, we still wanted to win the game, and went forward and created a chance," said the former LionsXII coach.
"But that was just the first game, and we'll need to settle into a rhythm.
"I was pleased with how we played, but we can definitely do better."
While not giving anything away about his game plan, Sundram acknowledged how the Warriors sat back and worked on the counter-attack in their 2-2 draw with Home United on Sunday.
Said Sundram: "We've observed the style of football Warriors play, and let's just say that we will have a game plan."