Everton boss David Moyes has warned his injured stars they may face stiff competition to regain their place in his side.
The Toffees are currently without key quartet Tim Cahill, Mikel Arteta, Louis Saha and Marouane Fellaini, but are nonetheless on a seven-game unbeaten Premier League run.
Moyes has eased the likes of Magaye Gueye into the team recently, while teenage duo Apostolos Vellios and Adam Forshaw have featured from the bench.
And the Scot is pleased with their efforts, suggesting his crocked stars have their work cut out when they return to full fitness.
"When the big hitters come back, there are one or two who might frighten them more than before, so we will try and bring those boys on," said Moyes.
"It might not be a foregone conclusion for people to be number one. We need that competition and the young lads have helped that."
The causality list has also allowed playmaker Leon Osman to excel in the deep role behind the striker, but Moyes remains unsurprised by his form.
He added: "Leon is a senior squad member and maybe getting one of the main roles helps him. Wherever he's played, he has been very good."
Meanwhile, Toffees defender Phil Jagielka admits catching sixth-placed city rivals Liverpool is not their main target ahead of the season run-in.
The 28-year-old prefers to take each game at a time and next up is a visit to champions-elect Manchester United this Saturday.
"There is no point setting goals to try to beat another club," he said.
"Obviously, with it being our neighbours it adds to the spice but if you ask the boss he just wants to keep going and picking up as many points as possible.
"We don't have to look over our shoulders now. It is pretty obvious we are going to be safe from relegation.
"The gaffer has basically said it is just three points for the next game and that is all we can do.
"The season won't fizzle out. We are playing against a lot of clubs who are desperate for points for one reason or another.
"If we can keep this little run going it is something to hopefully carry into next season."