Fury's depth battle

North Queensland are starting to relish their backs-against-the-wall start to the Hyundai A-League season as they prepare for another tough assignment against Adelaide on Saturday night.

North Queensland are starting to relish their backs-against-the-wall start to the Hyundai A-League season as they prepare for another tough assignment against Adelaide on Saturday night.

Every round has come with an obstacle for North Queensland to overcome, from taking on a Perth side led by their former captain Robbie Fowler, to battling on with nine men to keep Melbourne Victory to a draw last week.

It's against Adelaide in Townsville that the squad, rebuilt in the off-season when the club was on the verge of financial ruin, faces their greatest test of depth.

The absence of Togolese international full-back Eric Akoto and the inform Chris Grossman, who are both suspended for Round 4 following their red cards against the Victory, has taken a sizeable chunk out of first-choice defensive stocks of the outfit.

But North Queensland assistant coach Stuart McLaren is a firm believer in making good of a bad situation is just a matter of perspective.

And so, McLaren and coach Franz Straka are using it as fresh incentive to continually defy the odds.

"To us this is just another challenge," McLaren said.

"The first week was a pretty big challenge against a Perth side that are now rightfully top of the table, then it was the champions and then it was last year's grand finalists and we go through everything that happened there."

"One thing we have proven so far is that you lay down a challenge to us and we will be up for it."

It's a question that will be asked on an individual bases with two player needed to slot into key positions against a potent attacking side boosted by the return of Sergio van Dijk.

Former Brisbane Roar youth player Brad McDonald, recruited earlier this month from Queensland State League giants Brisbane Strikers, is a readymade option at left back. Teenager Jack Hingert has shown himself capable on the back flank when called upon with Brett Studman another option.

Vice-captain Gareth Edds worked well alongside Mark Hughes as a stopgap for Akoto in defence in the dying minutes against their 2-2 draw with Melbourne, leaving the Fury coaching staff spoiled for choice.

"It's just a matter of looking at all possibilities and coming up with the best solution," McLaren said.

"We have a few options, so it's not like we are scratching our head about what to do."

"We have a lot more depth than what people give us credit for."

The playing ranks in the tropical north took another blow mid-week with reserve goalkeeper Matthew Ham tearing ligaments in his knee during training.

Scans show he won't need surgery, but will be out of action for up to six weeks. Gold Coast's Jarrad Tyson is on loan as a temporary replacement.