MARTIN O'NEILL admits his Sunderland side might not have been able to cope had he not dipped into the loan market in January.
The Derryman swooped at the end of the winter window to bring in defenders Wayne Bridge and Sotirios Kyrgiakos until the end of the season, after using the bulk of his first two months on Wearside to assess where his resources might be most stretched.
In the event, he got it just right with both men having had to play key roles in recent weeks in the face of a minor injury crisis.
O'Neill said: "I am very pleased that we took them on board and just delighted to have them within the squad because they have made a contribution.
"I am just very pleased. If we hadn't taken them on, I would have been very concerned. I am not so sure we would have been able to have cope."
Bridge, of course, will have to endure a further brief spell of inactivity this weekend with the Black Cats heading for his parent club Manchester City tomorrow.
The 31-year-old full-back, who cost City £12million when he joined from Chelsea in January 2009, is ineligible to play against his former team-mates.
Bridge has made eight appearances to date for Sunderland, the last five of them consecutive starts, having previously played once for City this term.
He has been given his chance because of Kieran Richardson's calf injury, while 32-year-old Greek international Kyrgiakos, who joined the club from German outfit Wolfsburg, has started the last three games because of problems for John O'Shea and Phil Bardsley.
O'Shea missed the 2-0 defeat at Blackburn with a hamstring injury and then limped out of the 3-1 win over QPR with a calf strain.