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PETERHEAD manager Jim McInally insists some clubs in League One can no longer compete with wages being offered to players from those in the Lowland League.
Scotland's longest-serving manager revealed he's suffering from a recruitment "nightmare" this summer.
Peterhead only have ten players available ahead of this weekend's Premier Sports Cup tie against Aberdeen.
While the league campaign is by far the most important objective for McInally, the experienced boss doesn't want his side to be embarrassed in the group stages of the cup competition.
Speaking to BBC Sportsound, he explained the growing difficulties of having to compete with teams in the divisions below Peterhead.
He said: "We've lost 14 players this year. I think we've got 13-14 signed players, but there's only 10 available for next Sunday.
"What I find is that the Lowland League have now got clubs that are spending more on wages than we are.
"A few years ago we could maybe offer £100 more to a player from Glasgow and that would entice them up to Peterhead and now roughly on the same wages they can get it at Lowland League level and don't want to travel."
McInally went on to reveal he currently has no goalkeeper after a loan deal with Aberdeen fell through because they were drawn against the player's parent club.
"We just need to hope we have a good week and we can recruit some players," he said.
"But the league campaign is what it's all about and I'm trying not to be coerced or forced into signing players just for the sake of three or four games in the Premier Sports Cup. At the same token, you're not wanting to embarrass yourself."
McInally is not the only manager in the SPFL who has experienced the challenges of signing players in the current market.
New Hamilton gaffer John Rankin has yet to get a new recruit on board at the Lanarkshire side this summer.
The rookie boss took over the reins at the Championship club just last week, as he was the man selected to succeed Stuart Taylor.
He added: "Quite a quick turnaround for myself. We need bodies as well. A lot have left from last season and we haven't signed anyone yet."
Rankin revealed he has a slightly different issue to contend with though - with players rejecting full-time offers in order to combine well-paid jobs with a part-time career instead.
"The salaries in football in general are becoming smaller, albeit you take out England and the major leagues," he said.
Meanwhile, others were holding out for bigger clubs or higher wages as "they see the start of the season as the last week in July when the league starts".