STALYBRIDGE Celtic have been forced to let loan players Sam Sheridan, Jordan Chappell and Chris Gallagher return to their parent clubs for financial reasons.
And a lack of cash was also behind the decision to release James Coates as they could not afford to carry two senior goalkeepers.
Chairman Rob Gorski spelled out the cash troubles in his programme notes on Saturday, explaining: “Because of the financial pressures, we’ve sadly asked Steve (Burr, manager) to make more and more cuts to the squad.
“We truly are down to the bare bones now, but it’s simply a case of needs must. Whether we finish 13th or 23rd is secondary to finishing the season at all.
“Being candid, Steve is commendably loyal to his players and wants them all to stay, but sometimes the board has to make decisions that they don’t want to (we’re all fans at the end of the day), but we have to.”
Burr admitted it could become even more challenging now that midweek games are back on the calendar. Between Saturday and the end of March they have 11 games to play.
He said: “The squad is depleted without picking up any injuries or suspensions.
“If that happens, we will be relying on reserve team/academy players unless we get a favour from a League club that loans us a player free of charge.”
That has happened with teenage centre-half Harrison Holgate as Fleetwood Town have loaned him while paying his wages.
Burr added Shrewsbury Town had allowed Gallagher to play free for one month.
“Their manager Paul Hurst was great but, if we kept him beyond month, told us we would have to contribute towards his wages which we were unable to do.”
Of the financial position, Burr said: “People have a conception Stalybridge has a massive budget, but it never has.
“We had a decent budget at the start of the season, but nowhere near as big as other clubs in the division.”
Celtic are also likely to be without forward Theo Bailey-Jones for six weeks through a hamstring injury.