second string

Sports. the squad of players available either individually or as a team to replace or relieve those who start a game.
a secondary position, status, or group, as in a level of corporate management.

1635–45 in sense “backup, resort,” alluding to a second bowstring; 1860–65, applied to racehorses; 1950–55, to sports teams

second-string, adjective
second-stringer, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
second string
1.  chiefly (Brit) an alternative course of action, etc, intended to come into use should the first fail (esp in the phrase a second string to one's bow)
2.  a substitute or reserve player or team
3.  sport
 a.  being a substitute player
 b.  being the second-ranked player of a team in an individual sport
4.  second-rate or inferior

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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