IAN Rush admitted he was close to making a comeback this week!
But the 43-year-old Chester City boss was only considering playing in the reserves - who lost 5-1 at Shrewsbury on Wednesday - and not in tomorrow's FA Cup second-round clash at Halifax Town.
Even the FA Cup's top goalscorer didn't think he could justify pulling on his boots again to help solve his striker crisis by turning out at The Shay where City will be without no fewer than four players serving suspensions - Cortez Belle, Stewart Drummond, Ben Davies and Phil Bolland.
'I had only youth team players available to go to Shrewsbury so I seriously thought about playing,' he explained.
'I haven't played competitively for three years, but sometimes an old head in the team can help youngsters.
'If I really thought I was up to it I probably would have played against Halifax considering the team selection problems we have!'
While Rush was trying to retain his sense of humour under pressure there is no doubt Chester's hopes of a potentially lucrative FA Cup third-round tie have been seriously threatened by the card crisis.
And Rush still has only one recognised striker available - Kevin Rapley - with Michael Branch not fully fit and Belle suspended.
Drummond, Bolland and Davies have all received five yellow cards this season and will miss one game, while Belle will miss the next two games as part of his four-match suspension.
Chester hope to solve their striker crisis by tempting League Two rivals Yeovil Town to sell top scorer Phil Jevons.
They have made what they describe as a 'substantial' bid for the Liverpool-born striker who scored a hat-trick against them at Huish Park in October, but Yeovil boss Gary Johnson said Jevons is 'going nowhere'.
There is no chance of any deal being struck in time for tomorrow's game. Jevons, who is 25 and has hit 17 goals in all competitions this season, is cup-tied.
Said Rush: 'I have given the chairman five or six names of players I am interested in and Jevons is one of them. He has a good record at this level and I was impressed when he played against us.'
The winners of tomorrow's tie will receive £24,000 from the competition prize fund, but this could be a drop in the ocean compared to the proceeds from an away game against one of the Premiership giants which would be enhanced if the match was televised.
Halifax were second best to Chester in the Conference last season, but they will fancy their chances tomorrow given City's current shortage of players.
The Shaymen have lost only once in their last nine outings, have won their last three games, are third in the Conference and are expected to include former Chester striker Ryan Sugden.
Rush added: 'Considering the players who are unavailable I suppose we could be seen as the underdogs at Halifax. They are doing well in the Conference and we have lost our last two games.
'At least we know what to expect from them having played them last season. They are very physical and we will need to cope with that.'
Rush admitted Sean Hessey and Stephen Vaughan picked up knocks against Wrexham on Tuesday and will be under treatment until the last minute, but expects both to be fit.
He won't decide who will play in goal - Wayne Brown replaced Chris Mackenzie against Wrexham - until both have trained today with new goalkeeping coach Glan Letheran, the former Leeds United and Swansea keeper.
In the event of a replay it would be at the Saunders Honda Stadium on Tuesday, December 14.
Chester go to Ian Atkins' Bristol Rovers on Tuesday (7.45pm).
Ian Rush and coach Mark Aizlewood have been replaced as coaches to the Welsh Under 17s squad by new Welsh boss John Toshack. In charge now is ex-Wrexham manager Brian Flynn.