Ross County may not be able to progress in the League Cup after a Covid outbreak but their two remaining group matches are "incredibly relevant", insists manager Malky Mackay.
The Dingwall side forfeited games against Forfar and Dundee after "a fair chunk" of the squad tested positive.
MacKay will be able to field a team against Brora Rangers on Wednesday, with a tie against Montrose to follow.
"We'll have two tough fixtures and that's exactly what we need," he said.
"I'm disappointed because it's a terrific cup.
"But we have two games remaining and they become incredibly relevant. I'll make sure we apply ourselves really well so we are ready for the opening league game against St Johnstone (31 July)."
County, who won League Cup in 2016, had to suspend all activity following a high number of positive cases early this month.
Those affected returned to training last week but did not have time to recover sufficiently.
With Forfar and Dundee each awarded 3-0 wins and now sitting on eight points and six points respectively, there is no prospect of County catching them.
"A fair chunk of them had Covid to varying degrees, from asymptomatic to a couple that were in bed for a few days," revealed Mackay. "There weren't too many that were self-isolating
"The boys who came back in on Thursday and Friday were spent after half a session, so there was no way we could field a team on Sunday.
"Some have had to dip out of training in the past couple of days, so it's not ideal and it's set us behind in terms of fitness.
"Health comes first. Government recommendations are that people give it two or three weeks before resuming exercise."
Having added four summer signings so far, Mackay is on the look out for more new recruits.
"We are very light on numbers," he explained. "We've got four or five kids on the bench at the moment. We will strengthen but it might take a bit of time."